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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 and RESTAURANT STAKEOUT. Thursdays generally feature CHOPPED again, with some new programs making the rounds as well. Saturdays are filled with a different program stack each week.On Sundays high-stakes cooking competitions reign.

While the schedule is relatively steady, the network has been tinkering with the 10PM slot, choosing the end of the night for new program introductions. Some have been successful (MYSTERY DINERS, RESTAURANT STAKEOUT), while others have not fared as well (3 DAYS TO OPEN, $24 IN 24).

For its twentieth anniversary, execs want to reinforce to viewers how much Food Network has expanded the boundaries of foodie TV beyond how-to cooking shows. "We are upping the ante on new series development and exploration of the food world," said Susie Fogelson, SVP of marketing and brand strategy for Food Network and its sibling Cooking Channel. "We're not going to do a show where you'd say 'Why is that on Food Network?' But we want to keep exploring the food world in unexpected ways. The idea is to push envelope on what is food programming -- making it unexpected yet relevant."


Live + SD Primetime Ratings Comparison: January 2013 vs. January 2012  (% Change)

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

JANUARY 2013: Food Network started strong in 2012, but lost steam as marquee Sunday night programming began to lose its appeal. January 2012 was the best-rate month of 2012 while December 2012 was the net’s lowest rated month of the year. Fortunately it looks like Food is on the road to recovery, this month's ratings fall between last month and last year. Ratings improved by just under 20% across the board vs. December, and key women demos are down by 18% vs. last January.

Occupying the beginning and end of the work-week, plus a healthy presence on Saturdays, DINERS, DRIVE-INS AND DIVES takes over much of Food Networks line-up. On average, over six hours a week are dedicated to the show, which is nearly one-third of the primetime schedule. The program consistently brings down the average ratings for households, women and adults.  It underdelivers the primetime average by more than 20% on female demos. The redeeming quality of the show is the male audience. It is the only program on the line-up to hold an even male-female skew, and overdelivers the male primetime average by 10%.

DD&D was used to launch new programs in 2012, but most of them were not successful. The exception is MYSTERY DINERS, which has expanded to a full hour on Friday nights.

CHOPPED is the other Food Network filler. Like DD&D and the primetime average, CHOPPED increased adult 25-54 ratings by 20% vs. last month and lost 12% vs. last year. The iconic program dominates Tuesdays and Thursdays and it starts off the high-profile competition shows of Sunday night. Unlike DD&D, CHOPPED is one of Food’s top-rated programs, and consistently delivers strong female ratings. The strong female skew works well when it leads into female skewing programming such as SWEET GENIUS, but not so much when it leads into dual programming like RACHAEL VS. GUY.

Running on Wednesday nights, RESTAURANT IMPOSSIBLE is the only returning program from last year to gain audience. On average it improved adult 25-54 ratings by 7% over last year and by 20% over last month. It started January strong, but dropped audience as the month went on. Companion program RESTAURANT STAKEOUT kept pace with IMPOSSIBLE until BOBBY’S DINNER BATTLE took over for STAKEOUT, premiering on the 16th. With the falling ratings from the lead-in, the program underdelivered the network average.

Sunday is the big night for Food Network. When Sunday is on its game it s audience towers above the rest of the line-up. However, Sunday has been floundering for much of 2012, and things have not yet turned around at the beginning of 2013. Sunday night took the biggest losses vs. 2012, with a fairly consistent 30% drop in ratings across the board. Ratings are up 13% vs. last month, which is a change in the right direction, but it is not on pace with the rest of the week. Sunday night's GUY VS. RACHAEL delivered record ratings last year, and while the program is the top ratings draw this year, it lost over 40% of its audience. IRON CHEF is a staple of Sunday nights, but it has lost steam, and is one of the few programs to lose audience vs. last month.