Oh… how quaint the cooking shows of yore with straight-on camera shots of Julia Child and Jacques Pépin standing over a stove and showing Americans how to cook like a European, one ingredient at a time. It was all so calm, quiet and methodical. But somewhere along the timeline of TV cooking shows, the industry morphed into a frantic, time-driven competition-format with “cheftestants” going up against one another for prizes and critical acclaim under the watchful eye (and mouth) of world famous chefs.
We’ve written about such shows in this space before… from “Top Chef” (with a dozen chefs battling it out with pre-determined ingredients inspired by the episode’s locale), to “Chopped” (a “saltier” version of “Top Chef” that employs a basket of mystery ingredients)… but Food Network’s “Cutthroat Kitchen” takes the genre to a whole new level.
For one thing, “Cutthroat Kitchen” is as much game show as cooking show, and the best chef/cook doesn’t always win. The show uses a 3-round elimination format that begins with a frantic 60-second search for the right ingredients to prepare ordinary, everyday meals. Where things go awry (very awry) is during the auction phase at which time contestants can sabotage one another by forcing them to utilize weird (substitute) ingredients or physically restrict their ability to cook.
If you’re looking for fine cuisine, keep pressing the remote. But if you want something entertaining and light-hearted, with a little cooking thrown in, then “Cutthroat Kitchen” may be just what the “chef ordered.” And based on the viewership data from Rentrak, the show has been (more or less) delivering fairly consistent audience levels quarter after quarter since its premiere episode in the third quarter of 2013:
Although “officially” in its tenth season, there are no real seasons for “Cutthroat Kitchen” – at least not from a narrative perspective that we normally associate with TV dramas. Instead, this show just keeps delivering new episodes practically every week of the year, so viewers can tune in half way through a season and hardly miss an ingredient… I mean beat.
Female Demographic Skew
Cable networks in general and individual shows in particular typically exhibit strong demographic skews, but “Cutthroat Kitchen” is a notable exception, at least in terms of household income, education and race/ethnicity. Many of the indices we looked at are relatively flat. Even the Acxiom PersonicX Clusters that we’ve often used in this space reveal few, if any, real insights with the vast majority of indices tightly arrayed within plus-or-minus 10% of 100. If there’s a household viewing skew of any note, the one we’re picking up (via Rentrak) is the gulf between single-person male versus female households with the former pulling down a .59 HH rating (84 Index) and the latter a .76 rating (108 Index.)
Local Cable Advertising Demand
Local cable advertising on “Cutthroat Kitchen” is strong… and growing swiftly. Over the 12-month period (October, 2014 – September, 2015), 210 local cable advertisers ordered over 2,700 spots in the show across 45 Viamedia markets (60% of our nationwide footprint.) (Source: B.I.G.SM database — Copyright © 2015 by Viamedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved)
And within the 30 markets that exhibited advertising on “Cutthroat Kitchen” over the past two years, we have seen a 30% increase in ad investments (on a per episode basis), driven primarily by an increase in 30-second spots. A sure sign of strength is the fact that over three-quarters of our markets experienced an increase in advertising from one 12-month period to the next:
Local Cable Advertising Categories
Unlike the two other cooking shows we’ve written about in this space (“Top Chef” & “Chopped”), the automotive category captures a predominant share (42%) of all advertising investments in “Cutthroat Kitchen.” Perhaps one reason for that: “Cutthroat Kitchen” is really one part cooking show and one part game show (the other two being pure cooking shows.) What is similar between all three shows is the Food/Grocery category share (10% for “Cutthroat Kitchen”), which — while modest in comparison with automotive — is still three-times the share for Food/Grocery across all Viamedia advertisers (and shows):
A Hodgepodge of Ingredients
As of this writing, “Cutthroat Kitchen” is well into its tenth season, which doesn’t (quite frankly) signify for very much given the regularity that this show appears on cable with one season following the next within the same calendar year. Since it premiere in the summer of 2013, “Cutthroat Kitchen” has aired well over 100 episodes, which is a lot of content for such a short period of time. Still, this show has delivered overall solid numbers by providing its audience with a consistent level of fun (and silliness) as the “cheftestants” try to sabotage one another – how about cooking with a potato-masher attached to your arm; or being forced to cook with jelly beans; or cooking a meat dish without any meat? In a way, the show represents the convergence of several program genres, with a dash of slapstick comedy, and all the hodgepodge ingredients seem to be working just fine together.
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– Written by Jonathan Sims, VP Media Research, Viamedia