Aug 2, 2016

Guy Fieri The Secret Sauce to "Guy's Grocery Games"

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A good friend of mine was the first ad sales researcher at Food Network way back in the mid-1990s, and he used to grouse about how bad the ratings were, save for one program hosted by some chef by the name of Emeril Lagasse. Pressured to come up with ways of generating higher program ratings, my friend used to joke about running Emeril 24 hours a day and just re-branding the entire Network, T.E.N. -- “The Emeril Network.”

Of course, the network’s owner (Scripps) never went quite that far, but they didn’t exactly suppress the energetic and exuberant Emeril Lagasse. You’ll forgive the pun when I say Food Network “spread” Emeril all over the place…but I think you get the idea. Eventually, Emeril metamorphosed into his own “culinary brand” and is no longer with the network (at least not as a regular), but Food Network hardly missed a beat when it began showcasing a new “unofficial face” for the network -- the happy-go-lucky, Guy Fieri.

Once you lay eyes on Guy Fieri, you’ll never forget him. He’s the electric light bulb with the two-toned Fu Manchu mustache and bleach blond spiked hair, who hosts several Food Network shows (and specials), including the eponymous show, “Guy’s Grocery Games” (“3-G”), which has been on the air since the 4th Quarter of 2013 with well over one hundred episodes (and counting.)

“3-G” is one part game show; one part cooking show; and one part whatever Guy Fieri wants to throw in for a little extra entertainment. The action takes place in a pretty fancy supermarket (“Flavortown”) – a 55,000 square foot space designed specifically for the show. Believe me… it’s a lot nicer than anything in my neighborhood, starting with the sleek hardwood strip flooring.

The general format of “3-G” is having a handful of chefs careening through the aisles of “Flavortown”, looking for specific ingredients with Guy Fieri throwing in a few curveballs along the way. Ultimately, the chefs need to prepare several servings with the adjudged winner getting a chance to go on a -- you guessed it -- shopping spree.

“3-G” incorporates several elements from past cooking and game shows, but in the end it doesn’t really matter how derivative it can seem at times. And that’s because “3-G” has Guy Fieri, and that’s all that matters. His charm and personality keep things light hearted and moving along, which is why the show has delivered consistent rating and share levels for over 100+ episodes over the past ten quarters:

                                  Food Network’s “Guy’s Grocery Games”
                           Average Live U.S. Household Ratings & Shares
                                            By Quarter (2013 – 2016)

      Tuning Duration Average U.S. Household
Year Quarter # Episodes (in Minutes) Rating Share
2013 4th Quarter 9 540 0.83 1.07
2014 1st Quarter 3 180 0.78 0.95
2014 2nd Quarter 8 480 0.84 1.15
2014 3rd Quarter 7 420 0.92 1.25
2014 4th Quarter 11 660 0.88 1.05
2015 1st Quarter 12 720 0.81 1.07
2015 2nd Quarter 13 780 0.79 1.13
2015 3rd Quarter 13 780 0.79 1.18
2015 4th Quarter 13 780 0.75 1.02
2016 1st Quarter 13 780 0.70 0.93
Total or Average 102 6120 0.80 1.08

Source: Viamedia analysis of comScore TV Essentials® Data (Program / Network Average Report / New Episodes Only) for Food Network’s “Guy’s Grocery Games” by calendar quarter (4Q 2013 thru 1Q2016.) Quarterly ratings and shares are Live-only and were generated directly from the comScore TV Essentials® Data Platform. Bottom line average rating (.80) and share (1.08) for all quarters combined are Viamedia time-duration estimates. (Excludes all DVR activity.)

Local Cable Advertising

Over the 1-year period (4Q - 1Q 2015 & 2016), “Guy’s Grocery Games” has attracted well over 100 local cable advertisers who have ordered 1,300+ (equivalized) 30-second spots across 43 Viamedia markets (~60% of Viamedia’s national footprint.) That comes to an average of over eleven commercial units per advertiser.

(Source: B.I.G.SM   database -- Copyright © 2016 by Viamedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved)

And when we confined our analysis to the twenty-five Viamedia markets that exhibited advertising over the past two seasons, we found (on a per episode basis) a total investment growth rate of 7% driven primarily by an increase in 30-second commercials. Moreover, growth wasn’t confined to just a handful of markets-- 72% of them exhibited increased advertising investments year-over-year:

 

GuysGrocery1

Source: Viamedia analysis of B.I.G.SM   internal database (“Sports & High Profile Tracker”) for any and all local cable advertisers who invested in Food Network’s “Guy’s Grocery Games” across the same 25 Viamedia markets during the periods October – March 2014/15 & October – March 2015/16. Copyright © 2016 by Viamedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

 

In terms of local cable advertising categories, the two largest (Automotive and Food & Groceries) account for over six out of every ten dollars invested in “Guy’s Grocery Games.” While Automotive’s 39% share is about four points higher than what we see company-wide for this category, it is the Food & Groceries category that really stands out at 22% -- a figure 10-times what we normally see:

 

GuysGrocery2

Source: Viamedia analysis of B.I.G.SM   internal database (“Sports & High Profile Tracker”) for any and all local cable advertisers who invested in Food Network’s “Guy’s Grocery Games” during the periods October – March 2014/15 & October – March 2015/16 across any and all markets.. Copyright © 2016 by Viamedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 

 

The Show’s Real Secret Sauce

What keeps “Guy’s Grocery Games” rolling along quarter after quarter with over 100 episodes and counting? For one thing, the show is amusingly inventive as it keeps throwing crazy new obstacles (and formats) at the “cheftestants.” There are literally dozens of them, such as the “ABC Ingredients Game”; the “Food Wheel”; “Budget Battle”; “Cart Swap” and “Aisle Down.” But the real secret sauce comes in the form of the show’s host, Guy Fieri. The directors can create all the clever segments they want, but they wouldn’t be as much fun without the energetic and very likable Guy Fieri. After all, he is the face of the entire network, not to mention this show. And he’s the real reason why audiences and local advertisers alike keep coming back for more!

Topics: Cable TV Series, Food Network

Jonathan Sims

Written by Jonathan Sims

A media & marketing research executive in the forefront of cutting edge ROI measurement and multi-platform engagement. Before joining Viamedia as Vice President, Research, Sims held the position of V.P., Product Management at TRA, Inc. Prior to TRA, Inc., Sims was the Head of Corporate Research at Comcast Spotlight. Originally from New Rochelle, New York, Sims resides in the nearby town of Rye Brook where he and his wife raised their daughter. In his spare time, Sims enjoys reading history, rooting for the New York Giants and rollerblading, especially when the weather is warm and the roads are smooth.

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