TVNZ is currently taking a bit of flak over the direction—and the fairly significant decline in ratings—of its new primetime show Seven Sharp. But one of its faithful servants has continued to perform, with the first episode of the fourth season of Masterchef increasing its total audience by almost 100,000 viewers compared to last year.
The audience for the all-important 25-54s was up around 75,000 on the first episode of last season, and it gained 15.4 percent share of that demographic.
In the first episode, the show introduced the nation to what could be the latest cult reality TV figure, Jonny the Mountain Man, whose quote "chicken is a ladies' meat, so it's more of a vegetable" will presumably earn him both fans and ire.
As for the sponsors, most of them are returning from previous seasons, with Fisher & Paykel, Lion Nathan, Stevens, Skoda, Campbell’s Real Stock, SunRice, Arano and Countdown on the list (Countdown isn't overarching sponsor anymore, but is grocery sponsor, and Arano is new to the family).
Sunday was the top rating show of the night, with 650,000, followed by One News on 603,300.
UPDATE: Here's a TVNZ release
The new season of TV ONE’s MasterChef New Zealand has debuted with its biggest first episode ever.
On Sunday night more than 1.1 million people tuned in to TV ONE for the debut episode of the 2013 MasterChef New Zealand series, breaking last season’s record for the first episode of a televised cooking competition in New Zealand.
Episode one saw more than a thousand people apply to audition for the MasterChef judges and a chance to win the MasterChef New Zealand title and over $100,000 worth of prizes.
The show attracted a remarkable 36 percent share of the available 5+ TV audience at the time, a 20 percent audience increase on last year.
Head of TV ONE and TV2, Jeff Latch, says the figures show the appetite for MasterChef New Zealand shows no sign of abating.
“What’s really exciting is that series four is being embraced by more Kiwis than ever before, and that MasterChef New Zealand is delivering the very best of locally-produced television that TV ONE viewers have come to expect,” says Mr Latch. “With 16 more episodes to go, we’re confident there will be no stopping the country’s number one, cooking juggernaut.”