Food Network is a cable TV station that celebrates the love of culinary things. Programming explores the origins of ethnic cuisine, offers reality cooking contests, and gives its demographics the chance to see their food in a new way.
In 2015, more than 400,000 people on average are watching Food Network at some point during the day.
Although these numbers seem particularly high, they’re actually down about 20% from viewership numbers in 2008-2010. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the network is becoming irrelevant or that their programming isn’t reaching its targeted audience. It may just mean a closer look at the Food Network demographics may be necessary.
Who Is Watching Food Network?
- Women are more likely to watch Food Network when compared to men. 58% of the viewership is composed of women.
- Younger viewers are more attracted to this network’s programming. 54% of the audience is in the key 18-49 age demographic.
- 31% of the viewers of Food Network have graduated with at least a 4 year degree from a university or college.
- The average HHI of a Food Network viewer: $80,331.
- 3 out of 5 homes that are watching Food Network are directly owned by their occupants.
- 17% of those who watch Food Network are employed in a white collar profession or hold a managerial position of some sort.
- About 5 million people who watch Food Network will visit the network’s website at least once over the course of a month.
- The average age of someone who watches Food Network regularly: 43.
The programming on Food Network lately has been taking viewers out of the kitchen and into a plethora of reality shows. From cupcake competitions to celebrity bake-offs, this may actually be hurting the viewership numbers. The goal of the network is to hold onto its core demographics while trying to attract younger viewers. Is it working? The audience numbers might be down, but they are still comparable to other cable networks like AMC. Since 2005, the average age of a Food Network has decreased by 5 years, so some goals are being met.
The Family Structure of Food Network Viewers
- 50.3% of the households that regularly watch Food Network are composed of a married couple.
- 47% of the households watching the network have at least one child.
- The unemployment rate of Food Network households: 38%.
- 59% of those who watch Food Network on a regular basis have attended college for at least one semester.
- More than 55% of the households watching Food Network have an HHI of over $60k. 29% of households have an HHI of over $100k.
- The number of people who consume digital and video content from Food Network every month: 35 million.
- Food Network Magazine is the second largest monthly magazine available in the US today, reaching 12.7 million readers.
- It is estimated that Food Network as a television network is recognized as a brand by up to 100 million people in the United States.
- 50% of the epicurean magazines that are sold retail each month come from Food Network.
What helps Food Network dominate its niche is the fact that it is more than just a television network. It is also a lifestyle website, a recipe warehouse, and a magazine with valuable information for readers. People can take the lessons learned or the recipes available to create their own custom gourmet experience at home. This attracts them to the content in ways that television programming can’t always provide – especially if it is a reality competition. At-home chefs might dream of competing on Chopped at least once, but in reality they just want to make something great for their family and Food Network makes that happen.
Interesting Facts About the Food Network Demographics
- Food Network ranks #1 out of all cable networks with a demographic that is more inclined to purchase what is being advertised on the network.
- The network consistently ranks in the Top 15 in total viewership and is considered a Top 10 upscale cable network.
- The average show on Food Network achieves a Nielsen rating that is below 1.0.
- In 2015, Food Network Star drove gains of 15% over the previous season and several shows saw double and triple digit growth, particularly in Millennials.
- Food Network demographics spend 3% more time viewing programming in 2015 compared to the previous year, the highest increase in the history of the network.
- FoodNetwork.com is the #1 food brand across all digital platforms, which allows the network to potentially redefine the food category every day.
- 13 million people are connected to Food Network through social media.
Food Network might be declining in overall viewership, but the attraction they’ve had within the Millennials demographic is starting to take hold. As their programming choices continue to evolve to meet the expectations of their core group, they are seeing more shows be able to top the 1.0 Neilsen rating threshold. When compared to other networks, there is still plenty of work for this network to do, but they are starting to see some success with their programming evolution. Just 10 years ago, the best show on the network could barely clear 300,000 viewers. Japanese imports would outperform original programming. That has changed, but that has also driven away the initial core viewers of the network.
Has Food Network Lost Its Heart?
- Producers of Restaurant Stakeout were accused of faking incidents for the sake of creating TV drama, which goes against the authenticity that its core demographics demand.
- It was released that Food Network informs their Iron Chefs of 3 potential surprise ingredients before the taping of the show, giving them a chance to devise menu variations ahead of time – again the authenticity factor.
- Even though the Japanese version of Iron Chef was airing on Food Network, the network initially turned down the American rights to the show. UPN bought them, but canceled the reboot after just 2 episodes.
- Only 31% of the Food Network audience is actually interested in gourmet cooking.
- Less than half [47%] of people who are familiar with Food Network agree that they get valuable information from the various platforms that are offered.
- 1 in 4 people say they are more likely to purchase products that are advertised on the Network, which is the same number of people who say that they click on internet ads that are found on the network’s website.
- 29% of viewers say they are more likely to provide frequent travel advice to others as it relates to food.
There’s no denying the fact that Food Network has experienced some growing pains. There was that one time when they even aired some hard-core porn for more than a minute on the network because someone switched out tapes. Yet there is something missing from the modern programming. As one executive as put it, “The heart of Food Network is that it doesn’t have one.” In order to reach their key demographics, the network must be authentic. If it can come back to its original identity, despite some of its flaws, the viewership and ratings might restore themselves to 2008-2010 levels.
Looking to the Future for Food Network
- 73% of the people who watch Food Network on a regular basis describe themselves as the primary grocery decision maker in their household.
- 58% of people who watch the network have prepared a minimum of 5 dinners at home within the past week.
- 50%. That’s the percentage of Food Network viewers who say that they enjoy gardening on a regular basis.
- A little more than half [51%] say that visiting the Food Network website inspires them to make changes in their lives.
- 56% of people who watch Food Network say that the programming is a good way to learn about new products they can use in the kitchen.
- 1 in 4 people who watch Food Network are also interested in home repair or renovation programming.
- 43% of Food Network viewers are enrolled in a travel rewards program.
- 54% have shopped online for travel at least once in the last 6 months and frequently bring up travel in their conversations with others.
The future of Food Network can be strong as long as it pays attention to what its viewers want. The Food Network demographics are attracted to fun reality shows, but they get tired of the heavy doses of certain on-air personalities. Continuing to build the brand through digital and print offerings will also help to keep this brand established in the minds of its core demographic. If the key needs can be focused upon consistently, the Food Network will continue its dominance in this niche. If not, then this slow fade they have been on since 2010 may continue.