Canadians have a healthy appetite for food programming

The numbers are in for Gusto's launch and the premiere of MasterChef Canada on CTV.

Canadians’ appetite for food programming shows no signs of slowing. Gusto, a new food and lifestyle specialty channel launched in December, reached one million viewers in its first month of operation, according to BBM Canada data provided by Gusto. After four weeks on air, the channel is already approaching the top 10 for female-oriented specialty channels.

Available in 2.5 million households through Bell TV, Bell Fibe and Eastlink, the channel targets women 25 to 54 with cooking shows during primetime and lifestyle series throughout the day. About 85% of the programming is first run in Canada.

Meanwhile, MasterChef Canada premiered on CTV Monday night to 1.4 million viewers, enough to win its time slot and virtually tie with CTV’s Castle as the most-watched show of the night. It led the night among adults 25 to 54 with 654,000 viewers in that demo. Earlier this month, Chopped Canada debuted to 393,000 (2+, AMA) viewers making it the highest-rated series premiere in Food Network Canada history.

Chris Knight, CEO & president, GustoTV, tells MiC that a week before the channel launched, industry vets warned him to steel himself for DNRs, but Knight is pleased that hasn’t happened. Gusto’s early success is proof that Canadians want a greater variety of food programming, he says.

“I think for most Canadians when they think of food programming they think of one channel. I think that’s why Gusto has done as well as it has out of the gate because Canadians are looking for options and choices.”

As to why food programming in general is having its moment, Knight chalks it up to Canadians’ shifting values.

“I think food and cooking in particular resonates because, in tandem, you’ve seen a real change in people’s attitudes to their own personal lifestyles and eating habits, and getting back to more cooking, family and dinner table stuff.”