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As 'Parts Unknown' Wraps Up, Fans and Brands Say Farewell to Anthony Bourdain

Viewers bid farewell to a travel and food icon on Sunday, as the last episode of Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown aired on CNN. On June 8, 2018 the chef and explorer was found dead of apparent suicide in his hotel room while filming for the series in France, and in August, CNN announced a special final season with Bourdain’s last filmed segments as well as a tribute to the chef and a retrospective on the show’s production. Using data from iSpot, Canvs and Inscape, we took a look at fan reaction to the season, as well as viewing trends and data about the advertisers backing the series.

Insights from emotion measurement AI company Canvs reveal that fans had a lot of mixed emotions during the final season, with “love” topping the list, followed by “sad” — something you’d naturally expect given the circumstances.

While Bourdain himself was a primary driver of emotional conversation, people were drawn to the Kenya episode in particular. Many cited how beautifully the country was portrayed and applauded the show for shining a spotlight on positive things occurring there, like increased female empowerment.


We also worked with advertising analytics firm to examine advertising trends across new episodes for the last two seasons.

For season 11, which aired April 29 through June 24, 2018, there were 82 brands that ran 131 spots 257 times, generating 125.1 million TV ad impressions. Mitsubishi had the lead for highest spend, followed by GEICO and Lexus. Overall, auto makers had the biggest budgets for the show, followed by insurance companies.

It’s worth noting the huge spike in impressions that occurred during the June 10 episode, which aired just two days after Bourdain passed away.

Looking at the final season, the number of TV ad impressions actually dropped: 76 brands aired 121 commercials 224 times, generating 97.5 million impressions. While it’s worth mentioning that the last season had only seven episodes compared to season 11’s eight, there simply may have been fewer viewers tuning in since many of the final episodes took a new format given Bourdain’s absence.

While automakers once again were the top-spending industry, chemical company BASF was the individual brand with the biggest budget, followed by Boeing and Progressive.

And finally, according to Inscape, the TV data company with glass-level insights from a panel of more than 9 million smart TVs and devices, over half (51%) of people who watched season 11 of Parts Unknown went on to watch at least some of season 12, but only 34% of viewers who tuned in to season 12 had also watched season 11, meaning 66% of the season 12 viewers were new to the show.