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Food Analysis - November 2011


Food network has a ton of recognizable titles that it effectively rotates them through their schedule from month to month.  Food Network doesn’t strip across the week, but will often match similarly-spirited programs through-out the night, creating a sort of affinity stack. On Sundays, high production value studio based cooking competitions reign.


Live Primetime Ratings Comparison /November 2011 vs. November 2010  (% Change)

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

NOVEMBER 2011:  Once again Food Network achieved bottom-line month-to-month growth, but it was largely due to the male viewers. While men 25-54 ratings grew by 11% vs. last month, women 25-54 ratings fell by 4%, netting out at a 2% growth on adults 25-54, and the strongest male skew the network has seen. (The 25-54 audience was 43% male this year, 39% male last year).

Compared to last year, total primetime women 25-54 ratings grew by 8%, men 25-54 grew by an impressive 27% and adults 25-54 netted out 17% ahead. The biggest thing to turn around the network has been a steady stream of competition series. Competition shows are at the heart of Food Network’s growth for both men and women. As the network leaves serious cooking to its sister network the Cooking Channel, it is able to expand its focus beyond instructional programming.

DINERS, DRIVE-INS & DIVES is back with new episodes on Monday nights, helping propel the night, particularly among men, who grew by one-third. Taking a bit of a leap, we notice household ratings for the night holding at +5% and w25-54 ratings dropping 5%, and wonder if co-viewing isn’t a factor here.
On Tuesdays CUPCAKE WARS and CHOPPED show strong growth vs. last year, but are losing momentum as we see ratings flatten vs. last month. Even though men underdeliver on Tuesday nights, it is the third best rated night of the week for core women and adults 25-54.

RESTAURANT IMPOSSIBLE and Robert Irvine have revitalized Wednesday nights. Although average ratings for the night are below the network average, men 25-54 ratings are 54% ahead of last year while women 25-54 ratings are 25% ahead. Wednesdays have the strongest male skew of the week. In fact, this month the male / female skew was exactly even at 50/50.

CHEF HUNTER debuted at 10PM on Thursday nights, with back-to-back encores of CHOPPED as a lead-in. The program creates a situation where out-of-work chefs audition for a coveted executive chef position. The first week out the program lost 25% of its lead-in audience. Successive programs led to precipitous declines, and by the third week the program had lost about half of its debut audience.

Friday nights are also all about DINERS, DRIVE INS & DIVES, but the night is showing flat ratings vs. both last year and last month. Still, the night pulls decent shares and ratings that are just slightly below the network average.

Biggest ratings and shares were for the weekend this month. Saturday night mixed it up each week with a different block of programming (DINERS, RESTAURANT IMPOSSIBLE, CHOPPED and UNWRAPPED), Sunday was all about competition cooking. FOOD NETWORK CHALLENGE led into the top rated series of the month, NEXT IRON CHEF. The ultimate in competition/reality, it is a show about contestants competing to be featured in another competition show. Sunday night was the highest rated of the week. A close look at the numbers reveals that women were flat vs. last year and last month. Once again, it was men who were driving the boat, with 28% growth over last year.

We definitely see a trend of men embracing the food genre, particularly competition based cooking programming. But we have to take a moment to ponder, is it just a competition thing that is bringing men to the network in droves? Or is it the plethora of male chefs populating the programming (For instance, CHOPPED typically features three male and one female chef-testant. RESTAURANT IMPOSSIBLE features the towering Robert Irvine…). Perhaps it can be attributed to all those tattoos that seem to be appearing on every self-respecting chef. Either way, it's working for Food Network as it embraces its masculine side.