KITCHEN NIGHTMARES (FOX)
Scheduling history: Kitchen Nightmares has aired on four different days of the work week. Season one was on Wednesday, season two on Thursday and season three split among Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. It seems to have settled in as a Friday program, airing the last two full seasons on the evening.
See (who saw) how it all began: Kitchen Nightmares was originally scheduled on Wednesdays at 9:00 opposite two other new shows in Bionic Woman and Private Practice. It did get a one-week head start on those two shows, premiering on 9/19/07 to a decent audience of 6.61 million total viewers and a 3.1 demo. The next week was much busier, with the premieres of the two above plus the season premiere of Criminal Minds, so the show somewhat expectedly dropped 19% to a 2.5 demo. But as the dust settled in the timeslot, it picked back up, hitting a 2.9 in week 3 and a 3.0 in week four.
The best of times: Kitchen Nightmares' strongest season by far was the first, and toward the end of that short first season it actually picked up to above its series premiere numbers. However, its best individual results came at the beginning of season 3 when it got the honor so many Fox shows get: to air after American Idol. Its first post-Idol airing on 2/2/10 hit a 3.8 demo, which remains a series high to this day, and the two next highest results in series history came in the next two airings after Idol.
The worst of times: Kitchen Nightmares kinda has the Dante's Inferno of scheduling history, with each season bringing a more treacherous situation; "First, we're gonna put it against two of the most-hyped new shows and Criminal Minds; then, we're gonna move it against Grey's and CSI and The Office; then, let's put it on Friday, and then, let's move it down to 8:00 on Friday." And with almost every one of those moves, it's unsurprisingly taken a noticeable hit. Season five was the weakest, though it's for the most part settled in as one of the top programs on the night. Its two lowest-rated episodes came at the end of season five (after a couple other strong reality programs called Undercover Boss and Shark Tank had joined the hour). The series low was a 1.1 demo for the penultimate episode of season five on 3/23/12.
Then vs. now: As I said, Kitchen Nightmares has kind of been the ultimate utility player, thrown into situations so consistently tough that you almost wonder if they're trying to kill it. I think they just know it can handle those situations. The last couple seasons have brought the worst raw numbers of its run to date, but those numbers may be some of its most impressive yet considering the circumstances. It, not much more hyped Fringe, has been the primary reason historically Friday-challenged Fox became very competitive on the night. And yet it's back into a midseason situation for 2012-13 as Fox hopes yet again to get something going with dramas on the night (sophomore Touch and the final season of Fringe).
Adults 18-49 info by season:
|3||2009-10||Fri 9:00, some Tue/Thu||1.4||2.14||3.8||detail|
|Premiere||Average||Finale||P -> F|
For more on The War of 18-49, my look at the history of primetime TV's veteran shows, see the Index.