Cooking TV Shows Gain Popularity

New York, N.Y. – July 29, 2010 – America's mouths must be watering. Two television channels are now completely devoted to shows about cooking and other channels have various food shows, as well. Amateur chef shows abound and huge numbers watch, thinking – "Wow that looks easy. I could probably do that as well." But how many Americans actually watch these programs? And just who are there favorite TV chefs?

Half of Americans (50%) say they watch TV shows about cooking very often or occasionally, but half (50%) say they watch these shows rarely or never. Looking a little more specifically, just one on five U.S. adults (21%) say they never watch TV shows about cooking while three in ten (29%) do so rarely, one-third (34%) do so occasionally and 15% watch cooking shows very often.

These are some of the findings of the Harris Poll, conducted online between May 10 and 17, 2010, among 2,503 online U.S. adults ages 18 and over.

Certain groups are more likely to watch cooking shows. Over half (55%) of Baby Boomers (those aged 46-64) watch cooking shows very often or occasionally, compared to over half (57%) of Echo Boomers (those aged 18-33) who say they rarely or never watch these shows. While many of the great chefs are male, and men say they love to cook more than women do (32% versus 28%) , women are more likely than men are to watch cooking shows very often or occasionally (54% versus 46%).

Making purchases because of seeing something on a cooking show

Besides trying to make the dishes shown on cooking channels, those who watch these shows can be influenced to potentially purchase some of the food they see being prepared, along with the gadgets the chefs use and even the cookbooks the star-chefs have written. In fact, over half (57%) of those who watch these shows say they have purchased food as a direct result of something they've seen on a cooking show. Over one-third (36%) say they have purchased small kitchen gadgets, 24% have purchased cookbooks and 6% have even purchased large appliances as a direct result of something they've seen on a cooking show.

Much as they are more likely to watch these shows, Baby Boomers are also more likely to purchase both food (60%) and kitchen gadgets (41%) because of something they've seen on a cooking show. Gen Xers (those aged 34-45) are more likely to purchase cookbooks (29%) and large appliances (9%) after seeing them on cooking shows.

Favorite Cooking Show

Rachael Ray is the queen of easy meals and manages to get people cooking rather than dining out. According to Americans who watch cooking shows, 30 Minute Meals with Rachael Ray is their favorite cooking program. Tied at number two for favorite cooking show are two Southern cooks – Paula Deen with Paula's Home Cooking and the king of "Bam," Emeril Lagasse, with Emeril Live. At number four is the uber-cooking competition, Iron Chef, and number five is Good Eats.

In at number six is Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive-ins and Dives and number seven is Top Chef. Three females round out the top ten: the Barefoot Contessa hosted by Ina Garten, Martha Stewart, and Everyday Italian with Giada de Laurentiis.

So What?

Cooking shows are big business. They can boost viewership for networks and can also spur show collateral, such as cookbooks and kitchen gadgets. Additionally, many TV chefs have their own restaurants that can draw viewers and fans of the show to dine there. Besides business, cooking shows are also a form of escapism for many people. And, while many may have a little Martha Stewart in them, who can actually do the perfect soufflé? However, watching these shows makes cooking look so easy, that it's likely many file away those recipes as something they would "love to make later."


This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between May 10 and 17, 2010 among 2,503 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words "margin of error" as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

Source: Harris Interactive