It's a funny old world. While tens of thousands of New Zealanders got overly excited about KFC's Double Down late last week (if you want a real heart stopper of a meal, check this one out), over half a million Kiwis also tuned in to see two amateur cooks creating the exact opposite of that for the final of MasterChef. We've already talked about how much of a commercial juggernaut the show is for TVNZ and its owners, both because of its heavy commercial slant during the show and the ad dollars able to be raked in during the breaks, and with improved ratings numbers on the first season, that looks set to continue
More than 40 percent of all the New Zealanders 5+ who were watching TV on Sunday night watched the final episode, which, as you would expect, rated a season high of 21 for its target demo of 25-54. The average audience for the final also jumped over last year, increasing by 28 percent among all New Zealanders 5+.
The average audience in the 25-54s was up 19 percent compared with the 2010 series and performance also grew among all New Zealanders 5+ with an average audience of 539,400 compared with 2010's 513,400.
When we spoke to Jeremy O’Brien, TVNZ’s general manager, programme partnerships after the first episode screened in February, he said MasterChef was "unique in that the nature of the series as a celebration of food and the art of cooking lends itself to relevant product integration without impacting on the editorial quality and viewer enjoyment".
“Strong sponsor partnerships have meant that the MasterChef experience lives on well outside of the programme timeslot and Countdown is a great example of a partner that has brought the experience to life in-store and across their promotional activity to the benefit of their customers, who also happen to be our viewers. When the sponsor partners are relevant to the content and align with the production values of the programme, there are no credibility issues. We’ve got leading New Zealand food and food preparation brands such as Countdown, Fisher & Paykel, Mainland, Campbells and SunRice partnered with the leading food and food preparation programme in the market."
Like most in this industry who know how the game is played, when a close up of one of the sponsor's logos or products flashes up on the screen (lifting the lid on the Campbell's Real fish stock in a tetrapak during the final was a classic, as was the dash to Countdown for some courgettes), it seems glaringly obvious what's happening and it's hard to believe the general punters wouldn't notice. But, anecdotally, at least, they don't see the gratuitous product shots or 'endorsements' during the show as ads. And the improved viewing figures over season two also bear that out. So, as O'Brien says, that's most definitely a win-win.
- For all those future culinary stars, casting for series three commenced last night with applications available from www.tvnz.co.nz/masterchef