NEW YORK (AP) — Americans stuck at home staring at fading furniture and wondering what to cook for dinner have been a boon for television networks like HGTV and the Food Network.
The Food Network’s overall ratings in April were up 25 percent over the same month last year, while HGTV was up 22 percent, the Nielsen company said.
Both networks have adjusted programming in reaction to coronavirus shutdowns with more in the works. The Food Network’s Guy Fieri has gotten takeout at some of his favorite dives, and other chefs are exploring how to be creative with what’s in the pantry. HGTV is planning a show where new products are left on the doorway of people and design experts will judge how the family made use of them, said Kathleen Finch, chief lifestyle brand officer for the Discovery-owned networks.
“People are gravitating to our networks and talent because we provide more than entertainment right now,” Finch said.
Stuck-at-home show hosts are also making use of camera equipment lent by their networks. Comic Amy Schumer is making a program that debuts Monday for the Food Network, “Amy Schumer Learns to Cook,” that is being filmed by her nanny, Finch said.
HGTV hit paydirt this month with shows that featured Brad Pitt, Melissa McCarthy and other celebrities improving the living situations for people they know. The network is planning a show that will feature comics sitting around and commenting on episodes of “Househunters,” Finch said.
Four Discovery-owned networks — TLC, HGTV, Discovery and the Food Network — were among the 10 most popular cable networks in prime time last week, Nielsen said.
While HGTV and the Food Network are popular primarily because of the environment they offer, TLC is being fueled by a single hit show: “90 Day Fiance,” which films couples as they decide quickly whether or not to get hitched to qualify for a marital visa. Primarily because of that show, TLC’s prime-time ratings in April jumped 47 percent from last year, Nielsen said.
Later this month, TLC is premiering a dating show, “Find Love Live,” that depicts courtship in the quarantine era, Finch said.
CBS topped the broadcast networks in prime time last week, averaging 5.8 million viewers. ABC was second with 3.7 million, NBC had 3.6 million, Fox had 2.7 million, Univision had 1.6 million, ION Television had 1.2 million and Telemundo had 910,000.
Fox News Channel crushed the cable competition, averaging 3.69 million viewers in prime time. MSNBC had 1.78 million, CNN had 1.55 million, TLC had 1.302 million and HGTV had 1.3 million.
ABC’s “World News Tonight” won the evening news competition, averaging 10.5 million viewers. NBC’s “Nightly News” had 9.5 million and the “CBS Evening News” had 6.6 million.