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Food Network Analysis


Food Network has a robust inventory of recognizable titles that it effectively rotates through the schedule.  The network doesn’t strip across the week, but has created stacks for most nights. Mondays and Fridays are driven by Guy Fieri’s DINERS, DRIVE-INS AND DIVES, Tuesday is competition programs for women -- CHOPPED and/or CUPCAKE WARS, Wednesday is balanced male/female reality RESTAURANT IMPOSSIBLE, Thursdays feature CHOPPED again, and on Sundays big-stakes studio based cooking competitions reign. Saturdays are filled with a different program each week.


Live + SD Primetime Ratings Comparison: July 2012 vs.July 2011  (% Change)

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

JULY 2012: Food Network held the bottom line across the board vs. June. Compared to last year, adult audiences grew by 5%. Of note, that growth was spurred by men and by new programming.

Compared to last year the female audience was the same size while men grew by about 15%, resulting in that 5% gain on adults. RESTAURANT IMPOSSIBLE, DINERS, DRIVE-INS & DIVES and new program CHEF WANTED drove the male growth. Still, women remain the dominant viewers at Food, even with their slipping share (61% last year, 58% this year).

Each of the five programs running this month that were also on the air in July 2011 dropped audience vs. last year. The network managed its growth by losing its underperforming food-anthology programs (BEST THING I EVER ATE, UNWRAPPED, OUTRAGEOUS FOOD) and simultaneously heavying up on the programming that was working. And so CHOPPED went from 19 telecasts last year to 26 this year. RESTAURANT IMPOSSIBLE went from 4 to 18 and DINERS, DRIVE-INS & DIVES went from 43 to 63.

FOOD NETWORK STAR was the reigning champion of the month. It was the top-rated program by a long shot, coming close to doubling the next-nearest rated program. The format this year used established Food Network stars Giada, Bobby Flay and Alton Brown to help find a new star. Setting up their personalities as celebrity chefs and mentors is a strategy that has been working for Food Network all year. This month’s new mentoring program 3 DAYS TO OPEN, with Bobby Flay fits the mold.

The primary programming format remains competition programming. IRON CHEF AMERICA, CHEF WANTED, CHOPPED, CHOPPED: ALL STARS, CHOPPED: GRILL MASTERS and CUPCAKE WARS all joined FOOD NETWORK STAR this month in seeking to crown a culinary champion. Winning chefs compete in new formats, losing chefs compete for redemption and aspiring chefs compete for fame. And viewers continue to tune in to watch it all happen.

Sunday, the marquee competition night is still the ratings champ, but it lost a solid chunk of its audience vs. last year. Tuesday, usually a top-rated night buoyed with CHOPPED premieres, also took double-digit losses vs. last year.

Even with the declining numbers for its top-performers, Food Network had enough new episodes and new programming in place to hold the bottom-line.