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Viewership Deep Dive: ‘Top Chef’ and Other Cooking Competition Shows

As coronavirus spreads through the U.S. and millions of people shelter in place, television is more relevant than ever. And with live sports basically all canceled for the time being, some viewers are finding respite in food-focused shows. Cue the season 17 premiere of Bravo’s hit show Top Chef on March 19, featuring 15 past Top Chef contestants in an “all-stars” format.

Using insights from Inscape.tv, the TV data company with glass-level insights from a panel of more than 14 million smart TVs, we examined viewership of the premiere as well as crossover with two other cooking competition shows that are currently on TV: Food Network’s Tournament of Champions, which premiered March 4, and season 12 of The Great Food Truck Race (also on Food Network), which premiered on March 19.

First, a look at minute-by-minute viewership of the Top Chef premiere on March 19. Bravo took a smart approach by running a full-day marathon of the previous Top Chef season leading up to the premiere at 10 p.m. E.T. Notably, the network saw a fairly steady increase in viewership over the course of the day, spiking once the premiere began.

Related: Virus Crisis Bringing Young Viewers to Local Broadcast

Using data from March 4-19, Inscape provided a look at the viewership crossover among the three shows. (A note about methodology: You have to do more than just flip past a station with your remote to count as a “crossover viewer” in Inscape’s system. For the data below, the minimum viewing threshold is 10 minutes.)

At the high end: 41% of The Great Food Truck Race viewers have tuned into Tournament of Champions, and 16% of Tournament of Champions watchers also checked out The Great Food Truck Race. For Top Chef, 19% of last night’s viewers had watched Tournament of Champions, but only 8% have tuned into The Great Food Truck Race — perhaps because some Top Chef viewers were immersed in the Bravo marathon before the premiere and weren’t switching over to Food Network (Top Chef and The Great Food Truck Race both air on Thursdays, though at different times).

Inscape also examined viewership crossover between Food Network and Bravo overall during the same time period and found that 29% of Bravo viewers also tuned into at least 10 minutes of Food Network, while 22% of Food Network viewers had watched Bravo.

Here’s a look at the household tune-in locations for each show (on the DMA maps below, the darker the color, the more households were tuning in). It’s worth noting that although viewership was generally lighter across the country for Top Chef than the other two, it had the most metro areas tuning in.

Topping the list for DMA locations of households that tuned in for Top Chef: Glendive, MT; Charleston, SC; New York, NY; Philadelphia, PA; and San Diego, CA.

Topping the list for DMA locations of households that tuned in for The Great Food Truck Race: Cheyenne-Scottsbluff, WY; Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY; Great Falls, MT; Parkersburg, WV; and Alpena, MI.

Topping the list for DMA locations of households that tuned in for Tournament of Champions: Alpena, MI; Victoria, TX; Elmira (Corning), NY; Utica, NY; and Great Falls, MT.