HELL'S KITCHEN (FOX)
Scheduling history: Utility player Hell's Kitchen is the rare entertainment show to air on four different nights of the week and in all twelve months of the year. In the last two summers, Fox has started airing it on multiple nights in the same week (Monday and Tuesday).
See (who saw) how it all began: Hell's Kitchen kicked off in the opening days of summer 2005, pulling a decent 6.80 million viewers and a 3.2/8 adults 18-49 rating on 5/30/05. But that'd actually end up being one of the lower-rated episodes of season one. It rose to a 3.5 demo in week two, then a 3.8 in week three. It came back down to into the low 3's for most of the rest of season one but spike big to a 4.4 in the season one finale.
The best of times: Time to sing the old refrain for Fox shows: Hell's Kitchen was at its best when it got to air after American Idol! It only got that honor in its fourth season, when it got moved to the regular season for the first time in part due to the dearth of programming because of the WGA strike. The show opened season four with 11.85 million viewers and a series-high 5.5/13 in the demo and usually broke a 5.0 in its post-Idol eps. In the back half of that season after Idol wrapped up, the show typically pulled around a 4.0 demo or a little over.
The worst of times: Since peaking with the partly post-Idol fourth season, each season of Hell's Kitchen has dropped from the previous one. After taking the 2009-10 season off from regular season action, it returned in fall 2010 to its worst numbers yet. On Thanksgiving Eve 2010, the show hit its lowest numbers yet, pulling then-series lows with 5.09 million viewers and a 2.2 demo. It dropped below those numbers on a couple occasions in summer 2012, including as low as a 2.0 demo on 4th of July Eve.
Then vs. now: For its first three years, it looked like Fox was successfully developing Hell's Kitchen into the #1 powerhouse of the summer. Since then, it's developed into something entirely different: a true utility player. Unlike certain other summer franchises we've looked at, this one hasn't completely imploded when put in the regular season. Its ten seasons to date have premiered in six different months and aired at least once in all twelve months of the year. Though the ratings have been declining over the last few years (now down more than 40% from the peak post-Idol year), it remains clear Fox can put this show just about anywhere at just about any time of year and do good business. But as Fox continues to pound home dozens of X Factor and American Idol each year and uses Kitchen Nightmares as the regular season dose of Gordon Ramsay, its regular season schedule still seems pretty crammed. So Hell's Kitchen is back into summer staple mode, at least for now...
Adults 18-49 info by season:
|1||Summer 2005||Monday 9:00||2.8||3.41||4.4||detail|
|4||Spring/Summer 2008||Tuesday 9:00||3.6||4.65||5.5||detail|
|5||Winter/Spring 2009||Thursday 9:00||2.7||3.55||4.8||detail|
|6||Summer 2009||Tuesday 8:00||2.8||3.39||3.8||detail|
|7||Summer 2010||Tuesday 8:00/9:00||2.5||2.97||3.3||detail|
|8||Fall 2010||Wednesday 8:00/9:00||2.2||2.77||3.4||detail|
|9||Summer 2011||Mon 8:00, Mon 9:00||2.4||2.64||2.9||detail|
|10||Summer 2012||Mon 8:00, Mon 9:00||2.4||2.58||2.9||detail||B|
|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.