Food Network Analysis - September 2011

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SEPTEMBER 2011 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE:

* Bold denotes programming change

SCHEDULING STRATEGIES:

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.

SEPTEMBER 2011 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:

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

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

SEPTEMBER 2011:  The third month of the third quarter was a charm, as Food Network pulled in its best September ratings ever, according to the net’s PR department. According to our take on the Nielsen’s, numbers WERE up, but just marginally; about 5% for both household and adult ratings. Still, up is up, and the net is heading in the right direction.

As we noted here before, men continue to be an important subset of the Food Netowrk audience. They account for 40% of the bottom-line primetime audience, and are a crucial factor in the success of programs such as RESTAURANT IMPOSSIBLE, THE GREAT FOOD TRUCK RACE and DINERS, DRIVE INS AND DIVES. In fact, DINERS underperforms the primetime average on women, yet ranks as the fourth best rated program on households, due to the strength of the male audience.

Even with its male contingent, DINERS, DRIVE-INS & DIVES is off by more than 20% across the board vs. last year, and it is pulling Monday and Friday nights down with it. Monday night continued to draw the smallest audiences of the week, by a fairly wide margin. Other Monday night efforts, CRAVE and BEST THING I EVER ATE  fared worse than DINERS. Friday was a similar story, with DINERS pulling sub-par numbers and new programs SUGAR HIGH and HEAT SEEKERS pulling smaller ratings and shares than DINERS.

Tuesday nights are working with female-skewing competition programming CUPCAKE WARS and CHOPPED. The night held vs. last month, and vs. last year it was up nicely on women demos; +16% for women 18-49 and +10% for women 25-54.

Wednesday and Thursday are where the growth was to be found this September. This year’s edition of RESTAURANT IMPOSSIBLE is doing great things for Wednesday night, as the male audience nearly doubled and the female audience grew by over 50% vs. Wednesday nights last year. Thursday’s 50% year over year growth can be attributed to the relative success of CHOPPED repeats vs. ACE OF CAKES and IRON CHEF last year. CHOPPED does not appeal to men like the two other top three programs (RESTAURANT IMPOSSIBLE and FOOD TRUCK RACE) and so Thursday nights still underdeliver on adults and men, even with the 50% growth.

The second season finale of hit series THE GREAT FOOD TRUCK RACE was unfortunately timed against Sunday night NFL, and so the season ended with a fizzle as the show lost much of its apparently not-so-loyal male followers. On average, the program lost about 30% of its male ratings and 10% of its female ratings vs. last month. Still, it gained over 20% across the board vs. the September 2010 program average, and was the top-rated program for men, adults and households. Perhaps another attempt at a tailgating show is in order for the net.

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