Food Network has a robust inventory of recognizable titles that it effectively rotates through the schedule. The network doesn’t strip across the week, but has created stacks for most nights. Mondays and Fridays are driven by Guy Fieri’s DINERS, DRIVE-INS AND DIVES, Tuesday is competition programs for women -- CHOPPED and/or CUPCAKE WARS, Wednesday is balanced male/female reality RESTAURANT IMPOSSIBLE, Thursdays feature CHOPPED again, and on Sundays big-stakes studio based cooking competitions reign. Saturdays are filled with a different program stack each week.
While the schedule is relatively steady, the network has been tinkering with the 10PM slot,choosing the end of the night for new program introductions. Some have been successful (SWEET GENIUS, RESTAURANT STAKEOUT), while others have not fared as well (3 DAYS TO OPEN).
SEPTEMBER 2012 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live + SD Primetime Ratings Comparison: September 2012 vs. September 2011 (% Change)
Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample
SEPTEMBER 2012: Food Network gained a few women and a few more male viewers this year vs. last, yielding a 7% adult 25-54 year over year ratings gain. Numbers improved vs. the August lull, but are not back up to the levels they were hitting in July. Still, it has been a successful summer for Food Network, with more hits than misses under its belt, and more programming set to break in the upcoming Halloween / Thanksgiving / Christmas baking trifecta.
DINERS DRIVE INS AND DIVES remains the sole primetime food anthology survivor. Dominating both Monday and Friday nights, it has the most hours of programming on the line up with72 primetime plays this September. Men can’t seem to get enough of host Guy Fieri as male ratings for the show are up by 10% vs. last month and 15% vs. last year. Women apparently have had enough, as evidenced by their flat ratings. While men are providing the growth, the program’s audience is evenly skewed, retaining a slight female majority. Friday nights' ratings spike stemmed not only from DINERS, but also from the removal of the short-lived 3 DAYS TO OPEN.
Over on Tuesdays and Thursdays, CHOPPED and CUPCAKE WARS are not enjoying the same shelf-life as DINERS. CUPCAKE WARS sank to the bottom of the ratings rankers while CHOPPED took a 17% hit vs. last month and a 25% hit vs. last year on its core women 25-54 viewers. Running on Thursday nights at 10, EXTREME CHEF showed some real promise last month, but the declining lead-in CHOPPED took its toll. While EXTREME CHEF built audience from the 9PM CHOPPED, it lost 16% of women 25-54 audience vs. last month’s performance.
Wednesday nights are revitalized with new episodes of RESTAURANT IMPOSSIBLE plus new program RESTAURANT STAKEOUT providing relief in the 10PM slot. The dual-appeal programs combined to produce the best ratings of the week (across the board) displacing Sunday’s high-stakes competition shows, which usually win the ratings contests. RESTAURANT STAKEOUT started strong, actually topping its lead-in from RESTAURANT IMPOSSIBLE. However, it peaked in the third week and began to shed audience after that.
Saturday nights continue to host a rotating block of programs each week. Again this month, the DINERS DRIVE INS AND DIVES stack drew the biggest audiences, followed by RESTAURANT IMPOSSIBLE, then RESTAURANT STAKEOUT, with CHOPPED bringing up the rear.
Sunday, formerly the best-rated night of the line-up, has dropped to second place. The star of the night, THE GREAT FOOD TRUCK RACE gained traction this month with double-digit growth vs. August and vs. last year’s performance. However, Sunday night still slipped to second place, partially due to the rising RESTAURANT duo on Wednesday night, and partially due to the sinking CUPCAKE WARS and IRON CHEF AMERICA combo on Sunday nights.
While its older franchises are fading, Food has enough new programs in place to continue its successful trajectory through the end of the year. Besides the typically well-received holiday specials, up next are SWEET GENIUS, THE NEXT IRON CHEF: REDEMPTION and a new season of IRON CHEF.