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Food Network Analysis


Food Network has a ton of recognizable titles that it effectively rotates through the schedule.  Food Network has a ton of recognizable titles that it effectively rotates through the schedule from month to month.  The network doesn’t strip across the week, but has created stacks for most nights of the week. Right now Mondays and Fridays are Guy Fieri’s DINERS, DRIVE-INS AND DIVES, Tuesday is CHOPPED or CUPCAKE WARS, Wednesday is RESTAURANT IMPOSSIBLE, Thursdays feature CHOPPED again, and on Sundays high production value studio based cooking competitions reign. Saturdays are filled with a different program each week.


Live Primetime Ratings Comparison: January 2012 vs. January 2011  (% Change)

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

JANUARY 2012: A banner month came to FOOD NETWORK as ratings jumped by double digits across the board. This was the net’s best-rated month on our records (October 2007), and Food Network claims it was their best rated and most watched month in its history. The network has been quietly building solid programming franchises and its own celebrity chefs, and the efforts have paid off this month. Adult 25-54 ratings climbed by double digits every night of the week, with Sunday night’s competition programming putting ratings over the top. Bottom line adult 25-54 audiences were up 23% vs. January 2011 and up 18% vs. December 2011.

Much of the success comes from new programming, specifically RACHAEL VS GUY CELEBRITY COOK-OFF on Sunday nights. However ratings were up on every night, not just on Sundays. Improvements were also gained by stripping out the lower-rated programs. This is evident on both Mondays and Fridays, where DINERS, DRIVE-INS AND DIVES was pretty much the only show in town. Last year’s lower-rated UNWRAPPED, THE BEST THING I EVER ATE and OUTRAGOUS FOOD were nowhere to be found. The result: Monday and Friday ratings both improved by over 20% among adults 25-54. Male demos were particularly strong. A Guy Fieri halo effect from the RACHAEL VS GUY show was surely a factor as well.

CHOPPED is running strong on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It is the third-best rated show on women 25-54 behind RACHAEL VS GUY and IRON CHEF AMERICA. Tuesdays are the second best rated night behind Sundays, and Thursdays are the third best. Ratings for both nights showed more than healthy growth vs. both last year and last month.

CHOPPED does not resonate with men, and is among the lower-tiered programming when ranked on its male ratings. It joins CUPCAKE WARS, FAT CHEF and PAULA’S BEST DISHES in the Programs Without A Male Audience club.

On Wednesday nights some new episodes of RESTAURANT IMPOSSIBLE were sprinkled into the mix, helping to improve the program’s average ratings over last month by 34% among adults 25-54.

Saturday’s unpredictable stacks (CHOPPED, DINERS, RESTAURANT IMPOSSIBLE, IRON CHEF and others rotate in and out each week) produced the only single digit improvement this month. Women 25-54 grew just 2% vs. last year, and Saturday is the lowest rated night of the week. The news wasn’t all bad, as men grew by 25%.

Which leads us to Sundays, the star of Food Network’s revitalized line-up. Different competition programming runs here throughout the year, successfully leading viewers from one battle to another. This month IRON CHEF AMERICA, CUPCAKE WARS and RACHAEL VS GUY combined to push the network to new heights. RACHEL VS. GUY led the way, premiering as the #1 show in its timeslot among ad-supported cable networks (#2 for the night) on New Year’s Day (TV BY THE NUMBERS). But the program burned bright and finished its run in just 5 weeks. Can Food Network keep the momentum going?