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, $24 IN 24).
OCTOBER 2012 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live + SD Primetime Ratings Comparison: October 2012 vs. October 2011 (% Change)
Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample
OCTOBER 2012: As it heads into the home stretch of a good year, Food Network is starting to slide. Primetime audiences are down slightly vs. last month, but off by double digits vs. last year. Numbers are at their lowest level of 2012. Staple programs CHOPPED, IRON CHEF AMERICA and even the ever-reliable DINERS, DRIVE INS & DIVES are slipping, and there is not enough successful new programming in place to keep bottom-line ratings moving forwards.
Mondays and Fridays and even some Saturdays have been buoyed by the strong performance of DINERS, DRIVE INS & DIVES this year. Until October. Ratings for the evenly skewed program were down by about 20% among women vs. last year and down on both men and women vs. last month. The program remains the most heavily rotated on the line-up, and either needs some relief or a boost in the form of new episodes to help keep it alive. The lowered ratings are not helping new program $24 IN 24 as that program lost 10 to 20 percent of its audience vs. last month’s premiere, putting it firmly on the bottom of the Food Network rating chain.
CHOPPED, the second-most-scheduled program on the line-up is also waning, and is pushing down numbers for Tuesday and Thursday. The program never attracted many men, but women are turning away. Core women 25-54 ratings are down by 26% vs. last year.
The third blow to Food Network this month was IRON CHEF AMERICA. While the program aired only three times this month, it is in the high-profile Sunday night line-up, and the 43% drop in adult 25-54 ratings vs. last year was a tough loss. While signature Sunday nights have regained their place as the top-rated night of the week, they are still down by over 20% with women and over 40% with men. CUPCAKE WARS and HALLOWEEN WARS anchored Sunday nights with solid numbers, actually the best numbers of FOOD NETWORK’s week, among women. IRON CHEF usually carries a fairly even male/female audience, but the strong female skewing lead-in programming might have been hurting the classic cooking competition. In the last week of the month, female-skewing SWEET GENIUS was in place with better audience flow and better numbers.
The best night for men on the network remains Wednesday nights. New program RESTAURANT STAKEOUT has pumped new energy into the night and helped boost male ratings by 20% over last year.