The key ingredients to MasterChef’s success in 2020

Emma Macey

May 2020 saw a 4.6% increase in viewership in peak timeslots across the main channels

ICYMI, MasterChef has been a huge success for Channel 10 in 2020 and on Monday night 2.001m viewers nationally tuned in to watch Emelia win the trophy – up 101% from the winner announcement last year (Source: OzTam Metro & Regional Total People).

Personally, I am a huge fan of the show but for the past few years haven’t tuned in to many episodes.  I have been wholeheartedly committed this year though, and believe the success is due to some smart moves by the network but also the effect COVID has had on viewership and demand for light hearted entertainment.

1. New judges that wowed

Those responsible for casting these judges deserve a huge pat on the back.  Not only did the judges have such an exceptional knowledge of food, the way they articulated feedback and praise to the contestants was outstanding and inclusive. As a viewer you could really imagine how the dish would feel and taste on the palette. Not only were their professional knowledge and skills up to scratch but the relationships they built with fellow  judges and the contestants was fantastic to watch. They exuded support, confidence, empathy and vulnerability. 

2. Contestants Australia already knows and loves

This years ‘Back to Win’ season had viewers drawn in before the first episode even aired by casting known and loved contestants from previous seasons. This was a smart move by the network, pairing new judges with tried and tested talent. The grit, creativity and experience that we saw from these cooks and chef’s left the judges and audience wowed by some of the amazing dishes that were served up.

3. The COVID effect

COVID lockdowns have been a driving factor for audience increases on FTA.  May 2020 saw a 4.6% increase in viewership in peak timeslots across the main channels (Source: OzTam, Projections, Metro 5Cap, Peak, Total People, May 2019vs May 2020,Consolidated(excludes 7Food). Audience now remain stable week on week and Reality & Light Entertainment continue to prove audience favourites. Naturally as a result of this we would expect MasterChef to see an increase but not to the numbers it delivered. What we have seen from consumer research led by our team at One Small Step Collective is that initially when we learned about COVID and the impacts it would have to our country, News consumption skyrocketed as people wanted and needed to know what was happening and restrictions that were being applied.  As the months have passed by audiences have been experiencing ‘COVID fatigue’ and are switching to more light hearted programming. MasterChef delivered positivity in hearts and spades and has been a format that has bought families back together for this appointment viewing.

Network Ten have announced Jock, Mel and Andy will be returning as judges for Junior MasterChef later this year and one thing I know for sure is that if I am still in lockdown with my kids at home – we will be tuning in and trying out the recipes!