My Kitchen Rules’ genial judges Manu Fieldel and Pete Evans.Channel Ten turned up the heat this year by launching Masterchef: The Professionals almost a month before the start of official ratings.
Channel Seven responded with My Kitchen Rules and, on its first outing at least, the four-year-old reality cooking competition lived up to its name, with 1.38 million tuning in.
In a highly competitive night, it only narrowly beat Channel Nine’s coverage of the Australia v Sri Lanka cricket clash, which drew 1.37 million viewers.
Ten’s Masterchef: The Professionals, facing a perfect storm of intense competition and the damage Ten is still carrying from a brutal 2012 ratings year, was battered down to 892,000 viewers.
Seven will be pleased with the result: 1.38 million is a solid number given the ratings year has not yet begun, and audience habits were disrupted last night because of news coverage of the Queensland floods.
As a result, even My Kitchen Rules only managed to grab the third rung on the rankings. Nine and Seven’s news services took the top two, with 1.57 million watching Nine News and 1.53 million watching Seven News.
The official ratings year begins on Sunday, February 10.
While My Kitchen Rules can legitimately claim to be a hit show, its success came a little later in its life. The first two seasons were relatively modest affairs in ratings terms.
The show’s first season averaged audiences of about 1.2 to 1.3 million nationally. The second season improved those numbers slightly.
It was the third season in which the series “broke out” and became a bona fide juggernaut, delivering weekly audiences of about 1.7 million. A handful of programs in that series hit 2 million viewers.
The third season finale drew a national audience of 2.198 million, and 2.812 million viewers for the announcement of the winner.
For ratings purposes, networks usually code the final segment of large-scale reality competitions separately to maximise their performance in the program rankings.
Looking to the longer term, Seven will be hoping MKR can build its numbers closer to 1.5 million nightly, lest the market sees the show’s third season as the exception to its overall performance, rather than the rule.
My Kitchen Rules pits teams of two against each other, tasked with transforming their homes into “instant restaurants” for a single night.
The prepared meal is then judged by Pete Evans and Manu Feildel, and a series of guest judges.
For the show’s fourth season, chef Colin Fassnidge joins the show’s three returning guest judges, Guy Grossi, Karen Martini and Liz Egan.
The show will also introduce “blind taste testing”, a gimmick almost certainly borrowed from another titanic reality franchise, The Voice, which uses “blind auditions” to enormous effect in its early rounds.
The winning team takes home a prize of $250,000.
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.