Food Network Analysis

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SCHEDULING STRATEGIES:

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 and RESTAURANT STAKEOUT. 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).

NOVEMBER 2012 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:

Live + SD Primetime Ratings Comparison: November 2012 vs. November 2011  (% Change)

HH

M25-54

F25-54

Monday 8-11pm

   -16%

      0%

    -18%

Tuesday 8-11pm

  -13%

    -24%

     -8%

Wednesday 8-11pm

    -29%

    -42%

    -13%

Thursday 8-11pm

   -34%

    -42%

    -34%

Friday 8-11pm

    -8%

    -16%

     -8%

Saturday 8-11pm

   -23%

     -31%

    -26%

Sunday 8-11pm

   -25%

     -46%

    -22%

MTWTFSS 8-11pm

   -22%

     -31%

   -18%

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

NOVEMBER 2012: In what could arguably be called the biggest food month of the year, Scripps’ Food Network had its lowest viewed month year-to-date. Bottom line primetime ratings fell by almost 10% vs. last month and more than double that vs. last year. If there is a silver lining to be found, the network did remain focused on its core women 25-54 viewers; losses among that group were minimized, relative to the rest of the viewing audience, and were down 18% vs. last year compared to the 31% decline taken by men.

Still, every night lost viewers from last year.  Hardest hit were Thursdays, Saturdays and worst of all, Sundays. The signature night of big-stakes competition has been slipping, not able to achieve last year’s levels for months. This year’s edition of NEXT IRON CHEF led the decline, with the 90-minute version really taking a toll on the bottom line. And yet, the Sunday night fare was the highest rated programming on the line-up and Sunday remains the best-rated night of the week. RACHAEL & GUY will be back in January, hopefully able to recreate the big numbers their show brought last year.

SWEET GENIUS, which looked like it had potential, took a 30% drop this month, pulling Thursday nights down with it. RESTAURANT STAKEOUT was another show that led audience growth in the past but failed to perform in November, although most of its losses were with men and a poorly performing stack on a Saturday night. RESTAURANT IMPOSSIBLE dropped a lot of its viewers as well, particularly men, with men 25-54 ratings down 23% vs. October and 33% vs. last year.

Among Food Network’s staple programs there was some good news. CHOPPED and CUPCAKE WARS were able to grow their female audiences, with CHOPPED improving vs. last year and CUPCAKE WARS improving vs. last month. DINERS, DRIVE-INS & DIVES put in a mixed performance, holding or growing men while holding or losing women. Even without a Saturday stack this month (which hurt Saturday nights), the program has a dominating presence on the network, averaging five hours per week. New programs this year $24 IN 24, MYSTERY DINERS and HEALTH INSPECTORS were slipped into the closing slots on Mondays and Fridays, with hopes of success from the DD&D lead-in. Results were mixed at best…none of the programs hit the primetime average, but MYSTERY DINERS was able to top its DD&D lead-in on most weeks.

Food Network has established strong franchises on most nights of the week, but for the most part they are fading. A strong new Sunday night competition show could turn things around. If not, it could be a tough year ahead.

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