The great food ratings race kicks off

Last night, the inaugural episodes of The Great Food Race and the fifth season of Masterchef New Zealand aired on TV3 and TV One, respectively. And with this started what could potentially turn into a ratings battle for food format supremacy in 2014.

According to Nielsen TAM, the overnight ratings in the 25-54 age group indicate that an average of 93,000 viewers tuned in to watch The Great Food Race, while 185,000 pairs of eyes were glued to TV One at the same time. And Nielsen statistics across all age groups showed an even bleaker result for The Great Food Race, as the show’s audience of 160,000 viewers was dwarfed by the 483,000 that watched MasterChef.

Despite a solid performance, TV One’s viewership pot was not quite as full as it was last year when 621,500 viewers tuned in for the first episode of season four of the popular show.

Even though TV One’s show proved two to three times as popular as The Great Food Race on the first night, Rachel Lorimer, the group comms manager at Mediaworks, remains professionally optimistic. 

“It’s very early days for a new show (and new format), but The Great Food Race has had a solid start in terms of ratings, especially for a Kiwi show up against an international cooking format,” she says. 

“It’s worth noting that last night’s audience numbers are similar to those TV3 was getting in the timeslot this time last year, when we were screening all-new episodes of the hit shows The Simpsons and Family Guy.”

Lorimer also adds that the combination of a low drop-off rate and a decent audience response via Twitter were promising indicators that viewership could build as the show progresses.

Interestingly, TV3 also introduced the Twittersphere to #enzmo, a hashtag in honour of the impressive upper-lip hair donned by judge Lorenzo Bresolin.

While the shows approach the food format from completely different angles, one element that they both have in common is seamlessly integrated sponsorship.

On the MasterChef set, Fisher & Paykel ovens, cooktops and the DCS grill feature in the cooking challenges. In addition, Skoda transports contestants between venues, Stevens supplies the kitchen equipment, Campbell’s Real Stock and Countdown provision the pantry and Centrum enjoys a 10-second spot before the opening credits of every episode.

Countdown will also be brining its ingredients-providing services to The Great Food Race, while Air New Zealand will ensure that all the contestants reach their destinations when flights are required. 

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