► What Clarkson, Hammond, May did next
► New motoring show on Amazon Prime
► We pore over the world's reaction
Ex-Top Gear presenting trio Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May have signed up to produce a new motoring show on Amazon Prime Video, it emerged this morning. And they'll stick with executive producer Andy Wilman, the TV mastermind who created the modern Top Gear phenomenon.
The internet streaming service, part of home-shopping giant Amazon, announced three series of a car programme will be broadcast globally in 2016 - but only to subscribers of Amazon Prime, which is increasingly producing its own inhouse shows. That means that Brits will have to pay £79 a year to be able to watch 'Motormouth' in action.
No name has been given to the new show yet. The American digital behemoth has beaten rivals Netflix and ITV to sign up the three presenters, according to those close to negotiations. Their star qualities - the last Top Gear show aired on BBC in June 2015, drawing 5 million viewers - sparked something of a bidding war.
The end of Clarkson-era Top Gear
Top Gear was suspended earlier this spring after lead presenter Clarkson punched a producer in the face; it was the straw that broke the camel's back, coming after a series of final warnings, brushes with the law and endless PR dust-ups. In March 2015 his BBC contract was ended, clearing the way for radio DJ and petrolhead Chris Evans to take the reins.
The two rival shows will now both relaunch in 2016, setting up one of the big twin tests of modern times: can the irreverent Clarkson, Hammond and May still perform on a streaming service, away from the strictures of the highly politicised BBC? Does anyone actually watch Amazon Prime Video? Will they totally scrap the format they so lovingly created? And what will Evans do with his new BBC car show, which is rumoured to include appearances from the likes of Jenson Button? All will be revealed in 2016...
Life after Top Gear: the world reacts
The internet is awash with reaction and analysis of the new motoring programme on Amazon Prime Video. It clearly signals a further erosion of traditional broadcasting media, and shows that digital giants such as Amazon, Netflix and Youtube are vying to become the video channel of choice.
Here we pore over the best reaction from around the world.
Jeremy Clarkson, ex-Top Gear presenter
'I'm very excited to announce that Hammond, May and I have signed a deal with @AmazonVideo'
Amazon Prime Video vice president Jay Marine
'Customers told us they wanted to see the team back on screen, and we are excited to make that happen. 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. This is a golden age of television, a great time for TV makers and storytellers. Our approach is to give programme makers creative freedom to be innovative and make the shows they want to make. This is just the start, you should expect to see more world-leading talent and the biggest shows on Prime Video.'
Mark Savage, BBC entertainment reporter
‘It's a shrewd move. For a start, Amazon doesn't have to bow to pressure from advertisers, particularly those car manufacturers the team regularly skewers. Secondly, it neatly sidesteps the much reported clause in the presenters' BBC contracts that prevented them making a show for a UK broadcaster for two years. ‘More importantly, the team already have a proven track record in streaming video. Top Gear accounted for eight of the top 20 most-streamed programmes on the BBC's iPlayer last year, with one episode watched by 3.8 million people.
Andy Wilman, executive producer on old Top Gear - and new Amazon show
‘All we know is that we want to stay together and carry on making a car show. There is a will for it – the public want it, broadcasters want it – so the stars are aligning in the right way. Once this show’s gone out and we’ve got closure, we’ll crack on… I’m not worried about [competing with BBC Top Gear under Chris Evans]. It went global because of Richard, James and Jeremy, and grew at a time when channel loyalty, schedules, all those pillars of traditional TV watching, have fallen away... We are looking for a global platform.’
Adam Sherwin, The Independent media correspondent
'Will ITV buy terrestrial rights to Clarkson's Not Gear from Amazon Prime after exclusivity period? Gets round BBC non-compete clause...'
Neil Midgley, contributor to Forbes
'At the BBC, Clarkson and his team had the protection not only of the BBC’s internal “compliance” procedures – to make sure that Top Gearcomplied with editorial guidelines – but also came under the jurisdiction of the UK’s communications regulator, Ofcom, and its rules on harm and offence. They knew, on the basis of generally accepted rules, where to draw the line.Of course, the team at Amazon are grown-ups, and they will no doubt put in place stringent procedures to make sure that Clarkson’s new show meets standards and procedures that would be the pride of any broadcast network, in the UK or the US.Nonetheless, the world of viewer complaints about video-on-demand services is still pretty much uncharted. There are no generally accepted standards – and certainly not generally accepted standards that are valid everywhere. As Amazon expands around the world, it will come up against different cultural norms and expectations. Viewers will be able to vent their spleen across borders on social media. And yet Clarkson himself is still the same guy.'
Kathleen Brooks, research director at www.cityindex.co.uk
'This is a big acquisition for Amazon Prime and makes it a real player in the streaming video/TV service sector. Although Amazon Prime has already launched some critically successful TV shows in recent years, this is the most populist move yet and groups Amazon Prime together with Netflix as a true threat to traditional TV channels and networks. This is a mutually beneficial agreement. It sidesteps Clarkson and co’s clause in their BBC contracts that made it hard to work for a UK broadcaster for the next few years. It also gives the Top Gear team the freedom from advertiser demands that is crucial for the independence of the show, which it also enjoyed at the BBC. Clarkson, although controversial, is still immensely popular, and by signing him Amazon Prime could attract new subscribers around the world, which is crucial for the profitability of Amazon.’
Source: City Index