Put something else on the menu other than cooking shows

sam tedescoEnough with the cooking shows already says media trading director Sam Tedesco. The market saturation is not doing anything positive for the ratings.

Like most members of the Australian TV viewing audience, I love a good cooking show. Right now, though, I need a break from high-pressure personality-driven food formats.

I’ve gone along for the ride with audiences who stuck it out through lengthy MKR and Masterchef series. Then this week, Restaurant Revolution and The Hotplate launched.

Sure, food is still a hot topic, but let’s have a bit of a break between courses.

HotplateWith both networks running cooking shows, viewers are starved for choice. Are we really expected to sit through another six or more weeks of same-same at 7:30pm? And are the networks actually expecting this strategy to pay off?

It doesn’t look likely given the shows were cannibalising each other right out of the gate. Then Ten’s The Bachelor launched and served both networks a piece of humble pie.

Up against a program with a distinct point of difference, neither cooking show made the top five in any of the key demographics.

Restaurant revoutionPutting cooking shows head-to-head is a risky move.

After Seven’s House Rules and Nine’s Reno Rumble battled it out for eyeballs earlier this year, I would have hoped the networks took the learnings from this and differentiated themselves in Q3.

During the reno-off, both networks saw average audience declines of more than 12 per cent (based on total people, peak May/June 2015 versus 2014).

Source: etam, total people, metro five capital city, peak 1800-2230, consolidated

Source: etam, total people, metro five capital city, peak 1800-2230, consolidated

This trend is likely to occur again as each network airs their own version of the cook off with Restaurant Revolution and The Hotplate, two shows that can best be described as mash ups of each other with a bit of MKR mixed in.

It is a missed opportunity for Seven or Nine to run fresh content instead of sucking viewers back in with the same old formula. The end result is likely to be audiences switching over to the many other entertainment options now available to them.

It would have been great to have a choice of three new shows at 7:30pm in Q3.

Grant Denyer and Chrissie Swann are hosting Ten's spelling competition

Grant Denyer and Chrissie Swann are hosting Ten’s spelling competition

Ten is taking a gamble that may pay off by targeting families and grocery buyers with The Spelling Bee. This could be a very lucrative program for them, allowing them to chip away at Seven and Nine’s share. The Bachelor will follow on Wednesdays and Thursdays, locking in females later in the week (already a ratings winner on launch). Although these are not going to be MasterChef size audience numbers, Ten is being brave, strategic and fresh.

I do not pretend to be a programmer, but watching free-to-air TV during the next few months will be a challenge. The networks are shooting themselves in the foot by not giving us choice.

If a regular TV watcher like me is going to be looking for new and fresh content, what are the millions of other viewers going to be doing?

  • Sam Tedesco is the Melbourne trading director for media agency Maxus

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