His may not be the first name that comes to mind when the Fox Broadcasting Company is brought up in casual conversation, but let there be no doubt that Gordon Ramsay is one of the network’s singular personalities. His spit-flecked invective recalls Homer Simpson at his Bart-throttling best, his lacerating Scots tongue echoes Simon Cowell at the height of his withering reign as American Idol’s voice of derision, and his technical pedantry summons up images of Joe Buck nattering over a plate of inexpertly prepared gnocchi.
With five active programs on the Fox prime-time lineup, Ramsay is nothing short of a television phenomenon. Having just wrapped its 11th season, Hell’s Kitchen commands a higher unit cost on summer Thursdays than two broadcasters’ in-season shows in the same time slot. Meanwhile, MasterChef is one of the top-rated shows of the sultry season, out-delivering CBS’ Big Brother in the 18-49 demo and trailing NBC’s America’s Got Talent by four-tenths of a ratings point.
Fact is, Ramsay is an ATM, one that dispenses stacks of cash along with his signature no-bollocks brand of culinary mentoring. According to SQAD NetCosts data, three of the chef’s four extant programs command a unit cost north of $100,000 per 30-second spot, and while it’ll premiere in the HUT wasteland that is Friday night, buyers say the new Ramsay project MasterChef Junior is commanding a higher spot rate than anything at 8 p.m.
Per rate card estimates alone, Ramsay in the past calendar year helped generate approximately $157.6 million in ad sales revenue for Fox, a figure that does not take into consideration integrations or other custom sponsorships. Toss in the $29.2 million in advance commitments that Fox is likely to have secured for a 13-episode run of MasterChef Junior and Ramsay has delivered north of $185 million in sales for Fox since August 2012.
Based on the British series (the title has been inverted for stateside distribution), MasterChef Junior features a group of aspiring young (ages 8-13) cooks who will compete in front of a tribunal comprised of Ramsay, Eataly vintner Joe Bastianich and Chicago chef Graham Elliot. And no, the leather-lunged Ramsay won’t be bellowing at the children; Fox insiders say the show is designed to nurture the kids’ inherent talents, rather than put them off of cooking altogether.
“Having my own children who love to cook, I know firsthand the skill and passion these kids can have,” Ramsay said. “It’s extraordinary to watch them.”