Format sold overseas ahead of U.S. premiere

“MasterChef” is preparing to conquer the world.

Shine Intl. has been busy selling the cooking competish format in eight markets across Europe and Asia in advance of the U.S. premiere this year on Fox, with Gordon Ramsay at the helm.

“MasterChef” had a recurring presence on the BBC for nearly 20 years, but the show’s global fortunes have been turbo-charged since Elisabeth Murdoch’s Shine Group took over production in 2005.

After the show’s successful relaunch in the U.K., Shine execs strategically set up an Australian deal for “MasterChef” in the hopes that the success of another English-lingo version would help drum up interest among U.S. buyers, according to Shine Intl. prexy Chris Grant.

“It was an amazing format that had not been distributed to its fullest potential,” Grant said.

“MasterChef Australia” turned out to be a runaway, “American Idol”-level smash for Oz’s Network Ten last year, setting a non-sports viewing record with 3.7 million viewers tuning in to its finale seg in July.

Fox nabbed the domestic rights last fall (Daily Variety, Nov. 3).

The show takes an “Idol”-like approach in starting with a large pool (50 or more) of amateur gourmets.

In the past few months, Shine has cut deals for the format with France’s TF1, New Zealand’s TV One, Romania’s Pro TV, Greece’s Mega and Norway’s TV3. Company has also stuck a deal with FremantleAsia to produce renditions of the show in Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and Singapore.

The “MasterChef” campaign dovetails with Shine’s international expansion plan. Company set up outposts in Australia, France, Germany and other territories last year.

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