Jamie Oliver sparked something of a ratings "Revolution" Friday thanks to some savvy scheduling, pervasive PR — and big assists from Oprah and Ryan Seacrest.
Friday’s 9 p.m. timeslot premiere of "Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution" earned a 2.6 rating/8 share among adults 18-49 and 7.5 million viewers — the best ratings for any entertainment show on the night. It was also ABC’s best demo score in the Friday time period since late 2006, and the best Friday premiere for a new or returning show on any network since the fall of 2007.
The strong performance for "Revolution" wasn’t a surprise to anyone who’d been paying attention to ABC’s strong, pervasive marketing and publicity for the show.
In addition to airing ads for the show early and often (including during the Oscars), ABC made the smart call to preview the show last Sunday behind "Desperate Housewives," a move that made sure the millions of folks who don’t even know there’s still network TV on Fridays anymore would sample the series.
Some of those Sunday viewers clearly followed the "Revolution" to Fridays and joined with the normal Friday crowd to make the new show a success (at least in its first week).
ABC also smartly made sure that "Revolution" wasn’t seen as just another reality show by the media. In addition to the normal entertainment reporters who cover new series launches, ABC turned the show into a lifestyle event, garnering coverage from non-showbiz-focused media. That’s why "Larry King Live" had both Oliver and executive producer Seacrest on last week — not just to talk about the show, but to discuss the issue of obesity in America.
And it’s also why "Revolution" landed one of the biggest assists any new show can get: A plug from Oprah Winfrey, who welcomed Seacrest and Oliver to her Chicago studios Friday, giving the show same-day promotion.
Still surprised by the good ratings?
By the way, for those keeping score at home, this is the third time this year the Big O has given a big hand to new reality TV launches.
In January, she gave over a big chunk of time to CBS’ "Undercover Boss." The Super Bowl clearly played a big role in that’s show’s launch, but Oprah didn’t hurt.
And earlier this month, Lisa Kudrow appeared on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" to discuss her new NBC series "Who Do You Think You Are?" It’s also been a solid performer on Fridays, with the Peacock just deciding to extend its run another week.
If only the O had take an interest in the CW’s "Fly Girls"….