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Viewership Deep Dive: ‘Top Chef: All-Stars L.A.’

Bryan Voltaggio, Stephanie Cmar, and Melissa King on the 'Top Chef' finale.
(Image credit: Ernesto Ruscio/Bravo)

During a spring season devoid of live sports, abrupt format changes for studio shows and a halt in series production across the entire industry, TV screens have looked a bit bleak at times — but it hasn’t all been stale reruns. 

Enter Bravo’s hit cooking competition show Top Chef, which landed with its 17th season right around the time shelter-at-home orders went into effect, giving viewers something fresh to devour each week. This season, dubbed All-Stars L.A., brought back a cast entirely composed of previous contestants — and during the June 18 finale, the grand title of “Top Chef” went to chef Melissa King, a semifinalist of season 12. 

We took a look at viewership trends for this season using insights from Inscape, the TV data company with glass-level insights from a panel of more than 15 million smart TVs. Also below: data on the social media presences of King and the two main Top Chef hosts, Padma Lakshmi and Tom Colicchio, courtesy of CreatorIQ

On the day of the finale, Bravo ran an all-day marathon of the previous episodes, and according to Inscape, of all the minutes watched that day of all shows, 0.70% of the time spent was with Top Chef, making it No. 15 for show percent share duration. In this graph, you can see how viewership rose and fell throughout the day, jumping up as the finale began and peaking at the very end as the winner was announced:

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Here’s a look at the All-Stars L.A. audience location by local area market for the entire season. Hotspots of viewership included New York; Charleston, SC; Palm Springs; San Diego; and Philadelphia.

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Inscape can also reveal what other shows Top Chef fans are likely to be watching. Other Bravo shows rank high, including Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen and various Real Housewives series. Additional food shows are also up there on the ranking, such as Worst Cooks in America, Beat Bobby Flay, Chopped and MasterChef.

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Top Chef has a devoted core following — Inscape looked at viewership crossover between this season and the previous one, and found that 39% of viewers who watched season 16 also tuned into season 17, and of the season 17 viewers, 38% had watched season 16. 

Top Chef has long engaged fans off of linear TV as well, with web/OTT video extras such as Last Chance Kitchen, a robust social presence and online voting for “Fan Favorite” — a title that King also took home this year. Her rising popularity is evident from a look at her Instagram growth during the season: According to CreatorIQ, King had an impressive 146.21% growth in followers from April to June, and she currently has an engagement rate of 4.1%, which CreatorIQ considers “good” for an influencer with an Instagram audience of her size (nearly 95,000 as of this writing).  

The contestants and cooking are only one part of the equation, of course. Part of the draw for viewers are two of the charming — but often blunt — celebrity chefs that host and judge the show: Padma Lakshmi and Tom Colicchio. We also took a look at how Lakshmi and Colicchio measure up on social media. 

On Instagram, Lakshmi has an average engagement rate of 3.36% on recent posts, which CreatorIQ considers “good” for a creator of her size (808K followers), and her following on the platform has grown 21.32% since April. Colicchio (258K followers) is also in the “good” range on Instagram, with a 2.02% average engagement rate on recent posts and a growth of 18.13% since April.