DECEMBER 2010 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE:
* Bold denotes programming change
Food network has a ton of recognizable titles and rotates them through their schedule from month to month effectively. They use quite a lot of half hours. This network, more than most nonfiction channels these days, has a predictable Sunday night. On Sundays, high production value studio based cooking competitions reign. Food Network doesn't strip and Sunday night is the only reliable true stack. Other nights seldom run more than two episodes of a title, but will often match those two with a couple of similarly-spirited programs, creating a sort of affinity stack. At this shop, should anything less than three hours be called a short stack?
DECEMBER 2010 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / December 2010 vs. December 2009 (% Change)
Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample
What happens when three networks (all within the same family of ownership) literally eat from the same bowl? Sooner or later, they start to cannibalize each other's audience. Food Network's been suffering a multi-month string of declines from the previous year. Four nights showed declines from last year while only two had moderate growth and one night was flat from last year.
The beginning of the week continues to be the strength of Food Network. Mondays lineup took the top three spots of highest rated programs. The lineup of UNWRAPPED, BEST THING I EVER ATE and DINERS, DRIVE-INS & DIVES delivered solid growth over last year.
Tuesday's lineup of competition (FOOD NETWORK CHALLENGE, CUPCAKE WARS, CHOPPED) managed to show the largest gains in Women 25-54 of any night on the network.
Unfortunately, the momentum stopped there-Wednesday's were flat in the Women 25-54 demo and each successive night of the week posted higher losses than the previous night in the women 25-54 demo. Sunday nights were the culmination in year-on-year losses for Food Network. All of the key demos on Sunday posted double digit losses from last year.
One step that Food Network has taken toward improving this downward trend is to change several slots into anthologies that allow them to switch programs from week-to-week in an attempt to post higher ratings.
CABLEU NEED TO KNOW:
This network, one of the most clever in the cable universe for many years, needs you. The snazzy, studio-based Super-Bowl-like cooking competitions are still solid, but DINERS, DRIVE INS & DIVES, a field-produced roadshow dominates at the moment. A competitor, TLC, has dipped its toe into these potentially lucrative waters with a new series about BBQ competitions, thus blending two proven concepts. Here, as much as at any network, personality rules. Guy Fieri (a competition winner himself) is what makes DINERS, DRIVE INS & DIVES work. Imagining that show without him is like thinking DIRTY JOBS on Discovery would work without Mike Rowe. So... look for a new twist for these folks, whether in the field or back in the studio. They're surely looking for both. But don't even think about it if you don't have some good, promotable on-camera talent in mind.