ABC got solid sampling for its new Jamie Oliver reality show Sunday, successfully previewing the special in advance of its official Friday debut.
The special 10 p.m. broadcast of Oliver’s "Food Revolution" earned a 2.2/6 in adults 18-49 Sunday, with more than 6 million viewers tuning in for the episode. It faced tough competition from CBS’s "Undercover Boss," which bled heavily into the 10 p.m. hour due to NCAA basketball delays earlier in the night, and NBC’s "The Celebrity Apprentice."
Skeptics will note that "Food" finished third in its hour and lost a big chunk of its "Desperate Housewives" lead-in (3.5/8). But the fact is, ABC didn’t make the last-minute call to slot "Food" on Sunday in order to generate monster ratings.
Instead, the broadcast was sort of an infomercial for the show’s Friday premiere in its regular 9 p.m. timeslot. Friday is a tough night for the networks, and getting audiences to focus on new fare for the night can be tought. (As it is, a well-established program — "20/20" — managed only a 0.9 rating in the demo this Friday on ABC).
All ABC was looking to do was expose "Food" to a much bigger available audience on Sundays and see if some of those viewers follow the show to its regular night.
So on that front, Mission: Accomplished. The big test for Oliver’s show will come over the next two Fridays.
Elsewhere on Sunday, the atypical competition hurt NBC’s new unscripted block. New game show "Minute to Win It" and "The Celebrity Apprentice" were both down double digits from last week’s premieres. CBS did well with a mix of basketball and regular programming.
Oh, and over at Fox, "Sons of Tucson" (1.9/5) fell 10 percent from last week’s tepid debut. Fox will undoubtedly shift this show from its 9:30 p.m. timeslot before the start of May sweeps in order to avoid sticking affiliates with a weak lead-in to their local newscasts.