Hell's Kitchen: Strong Finish Despite Spoilers
For the 27th time in a row, the Fox network has closed out another week last week coming in first in ratings in primetime for the key 18-49 adult demographic. It's the longest streak a network has had in eleven years, and the third season of Hell's Kitchen has proven to be a solid performer helping to bring in the viewers.

Last week, the first part of the season finale of Hell's Kitchen helped beat out many of its competitors in its 9pm Eastern Time slot. Initial overnight ratings reports show that the second half of the finale was also a strong finish. It's looking to be the summer's highest-rated single non-sports broadcast episode.

It's an impressive performance for a reality cooking show, but this season, the strong finish was even more impressive as the final outcome of a Rock Harper win has been a given for weeks now.

Rock's win wasn't just the assumption of many who saw the competition between the final two as awfully lopsided. After all, Rock is an executive chef with years of experience in professional kitchens, while Bonnie Muirhead – although clearly talented – is a relative newcomer to the rigors of a restaurant service.

But beyond that stacked deck, rumors of the win have circulating on the internet for weeks now. BuddyTV reported way back on June 7 that Bodog.com, a gambling site, closed down betting on the third season of “Hell's Kitchen” after patterns seemed to indicate that a Rock Harper win had been leaked by someone involved with the show.

It's possible that a lot of viewers avoid any article that might contain spoilers, but it's also possible that viewers don't care, or at least not enough to stop watching. Both the recent season of The Bachelor: An Officer and a Gentleman and The Amazing Race: All-Stars also had (ultimately correct) spoilers and yet both wound up being popular with viewers.

The impact – or lack thereof – of spoilers might be another example of why audiences don't seem to mind that the winners of reality competitions rarely go on to truly stellar success. Other than American Idol and a few isolated winners from other shows, there have not been a lot of superstars produced in their respective industries by shows like America's Next Top Model or Top Chef. The recent Pussycat Dolls Present: The Search for the Next Doll wound up being a fruitless quest when winner Asia Nitollano shrugged off the prize and decided to do her own thing.

Viewers still turn in, even when the outcome is known, as it was this season on Hell's Kitchen, or ultimately moot. This goes to show that the point, as always, is entertainment, and as long as a show keeps us engaged, we're willing to tune in for the whole ride, even when we know where we're going.

What do you think?  Do you avoid spoiler reports or does it not make a difference to you one way or another?  If you hear a report, are you less likely to tune in for that finale?  Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

- Leslie Seaton, BuddyTV Staff Columnist
Source: Reuters
(Image courtesy of Fox)