NOVEMBER 2009 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE:
At the moment, this network engine has a lot of cylinders and goodness, they're humming. July follows a strong June that included a very successful NEXT FOOD NETWORK STAR, with an event-free schedule that delivered modest growth. With a collection of reliable series, schedule variations from month to month are generally modest.
NOVEMBER 2009 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / November 2009 vs. November 2008 (% Change)
Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample
For all the intense energy on-air, it was a peaceful, respectable month in the ratings at Food Network. Households were up 4% over October, with no wild changes anywhere in the schedule and no major swings in viewing patterns. Year to year, it was very good - Households were up 22%, and the deeper numbers were even more impressive: M18-49 +15%, M 25-54 +17%, F18-49 +30% and F25-54 +28%. Note that women were up roughly twice as much as men. Those are rock-solid numbers, the kind adsales executives love toting with them to agency meetings. Everybody wins.
The big news was THE NEXT IRON CHEF 2, premiers of which made Sunday nights the only nights that significantly beat the network's average. The show, mostly at 9:00 pm, surrounded by FOOD NETWORK CHALLENGE at 8:00 and CHOPPED at 10:00, grabbed the top four telecasts of the month. All nine November telecasts did well enough to make THE NEXT IRON CHEF 2 Food Network's top series for the month, well ahead of network averages. For those sharp competitors and producers out there who are interested such details, men watch in healthy volume, but nearly twice as many women showed up for THE NEXT IRON CHEF 2.
The other big title doing Yeoman's work for Food Network is the delightfully simple road show, DINERS, DRIVE INS & DIVES. Even with a whopping 22 telecasts, Guy Fieri brought home HH numbers nearly as good as THE NEXT IRON CHEF 2. The deeper numbers show it faring slightly less well with women and slightly better with men, especially younger men, than THE NEXT IRON CHEF 2. This show is really important: Nine of the top 20 telecasts in November were of the pudgy, likable guy with the spiky hair sampling small town chile and cornbread around the country. A good question for a Food Network exec next time you bump into one: Do you and your advertisers prefer the more heavily female numbers of THE NEXT IRON CHEF 2, or the somewhat less-heavily tipped numbers from DINERS, DRIVE INS & DIVES?
ACE OF CAKES and GOOD EATS each got double digit telecasts (14 and 10, respectively) but delivered numbers in every category that were well below average. The top twenty at Food Network inNovember, with number of telecasts in parenthesis: THE NEXT IRON CHEF 2 (4), CHOPPED (3), FOOD NETWORK CHALLENGE (2), DINERS, DRIVE INS & DIVES (9) AND IRON CHEF AMERICA (2).
CABLEU NEED TO KNOW:
Reality programming centered around food is in highest demand at the network. Find a unique personality, concept or forums that involve food, ranging from established chefs to origins of food to best places to eat.
Competition shows have proven to work with the Food Network in the past with right characters and format: NEXT IRON CHEF, NEXT FOOD NETWORK STAR, FOOD NETWORK CHALLENGE, IRON CHEF AMERICA, cake competitions, etc.
Talent is of utmost importance to Food Network: you must be established and believable as a leader in what you do to be on this network. Credibility is key. This doesn't equate to the highest level of professional training; Rachel Ray, for example, is a self-taught expert and is respected because of her raw talents and the spark she brings to a common kitchen setting or average person's experience of traveling and dining on a budget. Resource the culinary industry for key figures who can give the inside scoop on who or what is hot. This can fuel your development of some unique, innovative program ideas. Talent brought to Food Network's attention should be comfortable with the camera; knowledgable about food and enthusiastic about sharing it with others, and possess a clear vision about their cooking.
Travel and food mix well! Creative ways to unite the two, and either in a way not already done or with fresh, unique and credible talent, are always good choices for a show concept. Locations can be unique or mainstream, as long as good food can be found there.
Reality programming with strong personalities who possess a reputation related to food, a celebrity status, and/or a passion for cooking and the ability to resonate with any audience.
With the announcement of Scripps' new Cooking Channel, Food Network will likely continue to program reality-food shows and leave much of the stand-and-stir programs to the Cooking Channel. As Scripps' execs describe it, The Cooking Channel is to Food Network what DIY is to HGTV - a how-to version of the topic. We'll be reporting on what's happening with the new network (which is taking the place of Fine Living) as we here it, so stay tuned to CableU!