UPDATE 1-Clarkson and “Top Gear” presenters sign with Amazon for new car show

30 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Top Gear’ hosts move to Amazon: Why this is controversial.

The 55-year-old star had hosted the successful car series as a trio alongside Richard Hammond and James May until earlier this year when Jeremy was fired over punching a producer.The face of the BBC’s once-insanely popular auto series Top Gear, who was fired in March for allegedly assaulting a producer, will create a new show about cars along with former co-hosts, James May and Richard Hammond. “I feel like I’ve climbed out of a bi-plane and into a spaceship,” Clarkson said. It has since been confirmed Chris Evans is to take over the popular programme, but Jeremy isn’t missing out at it was revealed this morning that he will present with his pals once again on a show for Amazon Prime. Prime TV, which comes at an annual cost of around €99 and which also includes such things as free delivery on Amazon purchases (depending on your territory) is Amazon’s rival to the better-known Netflix and allows users to watch both movies and TV shows.

According to Variety, the company made a “sizable offer—said to be for multiple seasons.” It’s possible that the asking price simply grew too high for Netflix, which says it calculates the “efficiency” of its content to maximize the ratio of viewing time to cost. Prime members in the U.S., Japan, Austria and Germany should get the new show as well as the company talks about a “global TV deal.” As a reminder, in March 2015, the BBC didn’t renew Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson’s contract following an “unprovoked physical and verbal attack”. May and Hammond decided not to continue on the show without Clarkson. “Top” had been the subject of controversy for some time, with one critic writing that the “essence of ‘Top Gear’ lies in childish pranks, ‘politically incorrect’ jokes, [and] smutty comments” and another writing that the show consists of “drooling over European supercars while making xenophobic remarks.” However, more than one million people signed a petition asking that Clarkson be brought back to “Top.” Amazon Prime Video EU vice-president Jay Marine referenced this demand, saying, “Customers told us they wanted to see the team back on screen, and we are excited to make that happen.” Streaming services bringing back shows that are canceled is nothing new now, as seen by Hulu’s revival of Fox’s “The Mindy Project,” Yahoo Screen’s decision to bring back NBC’s “Community,” and the appearance of Fox show “Arrested Development” on Netflix. It has already produced such critically acclaimed programmes as the transgender drama Transamerica and has commissioned Woody Allen to write and produce a new series (a project which he says is the hardest thing he’s ever worked on).

It’s a good match: Amazon is a fairly popular service in the UK, and Top Gear, in addition to being a hit TV show, also performed well on the internet. We can’t wait to see what Jeremy, Richard, James and the team will create in what is sure to be one of the most globally anticipated shows of 2016,” he said in a statement. The show has yet to be named, but London Evening Standard newspaper reports the deal sees a minimum of three series and that an Amazon insider calls the move a “significant investment”.

Amazon Prime, as with Netflix, does not publish viewing figures but is estimated to have as many as 50-million Prime subscribers worldwide, according to the Geekwire website. Top Gear was relaunched in 2002 and the three men made it a hit all around the globe, with famous names including Hugh Grant, Ewan McGregor, Eric Bana and Sienna Miller all jumping at the chance to get involved.

Not to mention that Amazon is free from advertising pressure, so there should be more leeway for the divisive Clarkson to be himself, provided he refrains from punching people. Amazon is also estimated to be losing significant amounts of money on Prime and is reckoned to be about to increase the price, possibly by as much as €30. Amazon does not disclose its subscriber numbers, but the most recent estimates indicate it has about 40 to 50 million Prime subscribers around the world, many of whom don’t take advantage of Prime’s video offerings. Amazon doesn’t sell cars but it is still a commercial organisation so it will be interesting to see if Clarkson’s wings are metaphorically clipped.

It’s currently being rebuilt by a team surrounding new lead presenter and producer Chris Evans but there has been little news since his appointment as to other presenters or the format of the show. Car-nut couch-potatoes will shortly have to make a choice – watch an untried but free to air Top Gear on the BBC, or stick with the tried and tested crew of Clarkson, Hammond and May but fork out a significant annual fee for the privilege.

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