Having avoided the genre in favour of home renovation programs for some time now, Channel Nine’s recent announcement to launch into the reality cooking space may be long overdue but won’t necessarily translate into good news for media agencies.
It would appear Nine’s finally cooked-up a cooking show it believes can compete with Seven’s hugely-successful My Kitchen Rules and Ten’s slightly jaded MasterChef.
Called The Hot Plate the premise of the program is not entirely clear but will reportedly be a competition between existing restaurants and chefs. A screening date is yet to be announced and is not expected until May at the earliest.
Nine has enlisted UK food critic Tom Parker-Bowles – son of Camilla (wife of Charles) – for a hosting role and he is reportedly filming in Australia at present. Parker-Bowles has previously appeared on the British food program Food Glorious Food.
It’s been rumoured that Channel Nine has been working on some sort of foodie program for some time but was reluctant to simply go down the ‘home cook’ path of rivals MKR and MasterChef.
But what these cooking shows have done have meant a lot more sponsorship and product placement at the expense of new creative, which could be another blow for agencies struggling with diminished spends from FCMG and supermarket clients.
As reported in B&T last week there are concerns that the current grocery war between Coles, Woolworths and ALDI was having a ripple effect on agencies.
Media commentator and CEO of Fusion Strategy, Steve Allen, agrees that these cooking shows rate well for their respective stations but are dire for media agencies. He agrees that the propensity for product placement is as effective and significantly cheaper option than creating a new TVC.
“What shows like MKR and MasterChef have shown is that brands now have another way to have a deep relationship and integrated offering to the detriment to traditional ad spends,” Allen said. “That’s why reality TV is so important to television stations – great ratings, cheap to make, and they can offer more of what the advertisers are looking for, and, for sure, that’s causing these shows to leech and cannibalise dollars that would normally be going to media agencies.”
Allen predicted The Hot Plate would prove a winner for Nine so long as it didn’t go head-to-head with a rival. He believed Nine was desperate for a winning show and would make sure that happened with The Hot Plate.
“I’m sure there’ll be a temptation (from Seven and Ten) to run against it,” Allen said. “But if it (The Hot Plate) gets a free run it will produce revenues for Nine that weren’t there before and it will produce a premium for whatever audience it goes against.”
Allen seized on David Gyngell’s comments from Media Watch last week where he said all the commercial stations needed to improve the quality of their programming. Allen believed better programs meant more eyeballs, and more eyeballs meant more ad spend.
“There’s no doubt more money would flow to agencies if the quality of the shows improved. Australian TV has always been very good at that – inventing great shows that the public wants; not the public knows what it wants.
“(Nine’s David) Gyngell said himself said last week on Media Watch that commercial TV needed to be smarter, it needed to make better programs that people want to watch. They’ve not been getting it right of late and Gyngell has finally admitted that,” Allen said.