There is always a lot of talk about how the broadcast networks can draw viewers during the summer. The successes are few. CBS has found a hit in Under the Dome, and next summer, Fox will try to attack the problem ambitiously, with the return of 24 and M. Night Shyamalan’s Wayward Pines. As for the larger question of why American viewers prefer to watch scripted television on cable during the summer, it is confounding and strange. Yes, the networks’ efforts are mostly half-hearted (NBC’s Camp, ABC’s Mistresses), but you also can’t blame them for not wanting to put a lot of effort and money into something excellent that could be DOA. Under the Dome is a rare exception; by most criteria, it is the first scripted network summer hit since Melrose Place in 1992.
Reality TV, therefore, is available in plenty. But guess what? After the networks’ annus horribilis of a TV season, their reality-filled lineups are flailing too! The jewel in NBC’s crown, America’s Got Talent, is steady in total viewers, but among 18- to 49-year-olds, it’s down 20%. And The Bachelorette over on ABC, on which poor Desiree Hartsock seems like she’s being punked every week? It’s down 17% in viewers and a gasp-worthy 27% in 18 to 49.
It’s worth noting, then, that there is one man who is saving Fox’s summer and helping the network tie last week with NBC and CBS: Gordon Ramsay.
The shouty Ramsay’s Masterchef premiered on May 22, and his Hell’s Kitchen debuted the next night. In the 18-to-49 demographic, the two shows are ranked Nos. 3 and 4, respectively, on Nielsen Media Research’s charts for summer shows, behind only Under the Dome and America’s Got Talent. Masterchef, now in its fourth season, is steady in its viewership ratings with originals; it’s even a tiny bit up in total viewers, with a 4% increase over last season (6.8 million). Originals of Hell’s Kitchen are down (9% in viewers — 6.4 million — 13% in 18 to 49), but it’s not as dramatic a slide as some of the other reality staples. And it is in its 11th season, after all.
It’s hard for the layperson even to keep up with which Gordon Ramsay shows are on when. It’s so confusing! Even on Fox this summer, Hell’s Kitchen moved from Thursdays at 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the middle of its run. And when you factor in BBC America and the multiple airings of both the U.K. version and U.S. repeats of Kitchen Nightmares every day, forget it. (BBC America is also currently showing the British version of Masterchef, which Ramsay, shockingly, is not on.)
Somehow, though, people are finding Gordon Ramsay on Fox.
All ratings data used within is a mixture of live+7 and live+same day.