Monday, May 26, 2014

The War of 18-49, MasterChef


Scheduling history: Though fellow Gordon Ramsay staple Hell's Kitchen and spin-off MasterChef Junior have each pulled heavy regular season duty, MasterChef proper has remained a summer-only fixture. But Fox has moved it around quite a bit. It launched after Hell's on Tuesday in season one, then moved to two-hour episodes on Wednesday. Seasons two and three regularly aired on both Monday and Tuesday, season four was back to the two-hour Wednesday setup, season five made yet another move to Monday, and season six returned to Wednesday.

See (who saw) how it all began: MasterChef opened with a solid 5.75 million viewers and a 2.7 demo rating on July 27, 2010, almost fully retaining its lead-in from Hell's Kitchen (6.40m/2.9). MasterChef dropped a tick to 2.6 for weeks two and three as Hell's was perking up for its last two episodes (3.2 and 3.3). Then Hell's went away and MasterChef was left to fend for itself on Wednesday, where it mostly pulled low 2's.

The best of times: MasterChef's first four seasons have had remarkably consistent raw averages, which is always a good thing in an era of 10% yearly collective decline. And the road to those averages when compared with Hell's Kitchen paints an even more promising tale. After struggling on its own in early season two, it perked up when Hell's returned in the mid-summer, culminating in a series high 2.9 for the second half of its finale on 8/16/11. By season three, it was basically matching Hell's when the two were paired. In season four, it was on its own night and actually got better ratings than the original Ramsay series.

The worst of times: Though MasterChef was a highly legitimate anchor series in 2013, it may not have been quite ready for that role when it first led off in 2010 and 2011. Most of the series' lowest raw and historical-adjusted numbers came in its lead-off episodes in late season one and early season two. But it was approaching those levels again in season six, opening the year on a new low 1.2 against regular season competition on 5/20/15. Airing on Friday in 2015-16, the Junior edition dropped as low as a 0.9 on 11/27/15.

Then vs. now: As American Idol's collapse began, MasterChef was one of the only brands on Fox moving in the right direction. Until season five, each season grew year-to-year in Plus, and the spin-off MasterChef Junior has been just as strong as the mothership in recent regular seasons. Even in season six, taking its biggest decline yet, MasterChef was the best thing Fox had going for it on the summer schedule, so there's no reason to believe the end is in sight. Fox aired another Junior edition to great-for-Friday numbers in fall 2015.

Adults 18-49 ratings by season:

Seas Year Timeslot Avg y2y Lo Hi Results Grade
1Summer 2010Tue 9:00, Wed 8:
2Summer 2011Mon 8:00, Mon 9:002.20-3%1.82.4detail
Tue 8:00, Tue 9:
3Summer 2012Monday 9:002.47+12%2.22.7detail
Tuesday 9:002.36+6%2.02.8
4Summer 2013Wednesday 8:00/9:002.27-8%2.02.6detail
5Summer 2014Monday 8:001.88-17%1.52.1detailC
6Summer 2015Wednesday 8:001.46-23%1.21.7detailC-

Historical-adjusted ratings by season:

Seas Year A18-49+ Label Now15 y2y Lo Hi Premiere Finale
1Summer 2010 81 solid(sum)1.36 71 96 96 71
2Summer 2011 87 solid(sum)1.46 +7% 71 94 71 94
3Summer 2012 104 hit(sum)1.76 +21% 93 114 97 110
4Summer 2013 108 big hit(sum)1.81 +3% 95 123 100 114
5Summer 2014 100 hit(sum)1.68 -7% 80 111 80 106
6Summer 2015 87 solid(sum)1.46 -13% 71 101 71 89

MasterChef Junior ratings by season:

1Fall 2013Friday 8:001.401.31.6detail
2Fall 2014Tuesday 8:001.66+18%1.51.8detail
3Winter 20151.681.41.8detail
42015-16Friday 8:001.23-26%0.91.5detailB+

Historical-adjusted ratings by season:

1Fall 201374solid(Fri)1.0869858580
2Fall 201499marginal1.44+33%89107107101
3Winter 2015100solid1.458310710795

For more on The War of 18-49, my look at the history of primetime TV's veteran shows, see the Index.


Spot said...

I gotta ask, because I don't watch, what is the difference between Hell's Kitchen and Masterchef?

Spot said...

If they are direct remakes of the British originals, then Hells Kitchen is team based while Masterchef is a individual contest. Also Hells Kitchen is about being a restaurant chef while Masterchef confusingly is more about being a cook, or inventor of recipes.

Spot said...


Spot said...

I will be amused if it pulls in sub-2s yet still keeps beating 24 each week. Given the likely huge disparities in budget.

Spot said...

I think that's the way it will go.

1.7 for the season 5 premiere, and a bump up next week. I didn't know it was back until I saw it listed in EW, but I missed season 4 anyway.

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