Top Gear vs The Grand Tour – Viewer figures and episode ratings

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The final episode of Top Gear Series 24 going to air last Sunday, and while it was a massive improvement on Series 23, now is the perfect time to reflect on how the new series stacked up against previous Top Gear series, and whether it was able to take the fight to The Grand Tour.

The viewing figures

As is usually the way with viewing figures television series, the first episode will always rate the highest, before gradually reducing as the series progresses – as some viewers tune out for various reasons. If the show isn’t received well, the viewer figures will plummet much quicker – such as the 4.4 million to 2.8 million drop we saw in the first and second episode of Top Gear Series 23 with Chris Evans. Ouch.

So how did Top Gear Series 23 perform? Well, a bit like this

Top Gear Series 24: Overnight Ratings
Episode 1 (5 March) 2.8 million
Episode 2 (12 March) 2.7 million
Episode 3 (19 March) 2.4 million
Episode 4 (26 March) 2.3 million
Episode 5 (2 April) 2.6 million
Episode 6 (16 April – Easter Sunday) 1.6 million
Episode 7 (23 April) 1.9 million

As you can see, Series 24 opened with an average of 2.8 million viewers, before gradually falling to to 2.4 million by Episode 4, spiking to 2.6 for Episode 5. A possible explanation for the further reduction seen in Episodes 6 & 7 is that they aired after Top Gear went on break for a week, meaning some viewers may have thought the show had finished early or they simply lost interest.

So how does that compare to The Grand Tour? Well unfortunately for us, Amazon haven’t released the full list of viewer statistics for the show, but there is one statistic we have heard – by December 2016 approximately 2.3 million people had streamed the first episode of the show. It is important to note that this figure was determined by research company GfK – from a survey of viewers who fill in a diary of what they watch every day – so it is far from being an official figure.

Depending on how you interpret the viewing figures for The Grand Tour‘s first episode, it either attracted less viewers than Top Gear Series 24’s opening episode, or at least was pretty much on-par with it. The figures also would have reduced further as each episode was released.

Unless Amazon changes their policy and decides to release final viewer figures for The Grand Tour, we can’t really give either show the win here.

The episode ratings

Here on MotoringBox, every single episode of Top Gear and The Grand Tour carries with it a ‘Star Rating’ from 1 to 10, which are determined by hundreds of thousands of votes placed by readers just like you. Aside from being an easy way to find quality episodes worth watching, they give us a handy point of reference to see how the shows stack up against each other.

Top Gear Series 24’s highest rated episode is currently Episode 7, with a rating of 9.4 out of 10. On the other end of the scale, Episode 3 faired the worst, with a rating of just 6.9 out of 10 – one of the worst on record.

On the other hand, The Grand Tour‘s highest rated episode is Episode 13, with a rating of 9.5 out of 10. And the lowest – ‘Italian Lessons’ – still managed to achieve a decent 7.8 out of 10.

If you take an average of the ratings for every episode in the series, Top Gear achieved an overall score of 7.88 out of 10, vs The Grand Tour on 8.63 out of 10. So as far as our readers are concerned, The Grand Tour has won this one – just!

Our opinion

We love Clarkson, Hammond and May as much as all of you do, but we are the first to admit that while The Grand Tour did have moments of greatness, the show as a whole wasn’t exactly their finest hour. Let us put it like this – here at MotoringBox we’ve watched all of the older Top Gear episodes many, many times over because of how much we enjoyed them.

But The Grand Tour? Once was enough for us, thanks.

Many of the boy’s “adventures” felt unrealistic, as if you were watching a B-grade action movie which desperately wants you to believe everything is real. We also felt the hosts (especially Hammond and May) were putting on an act, as we’ve never seen Hammond that argumentative or May being as much of a bumbling idiot as what we saw on The Grand Tour.

On the other side, while we enjoyed Series 24 of Top Gear slightly more than The Grand Tour, it too was far from perfect. While the chemistry between LeBlanc, Harris and Reid shows some promise, LeBlanc is still a bit too wooden in the studio, Reid’s jokes sometimes fall flat and Harris is always looking for an argument. But thankfully the stunning cinematography remained, combined with a bunch of interesting road trips, challenges and car reviews throughout the series.

And the verdict?

Well, do we really need to choose?

Whether you prefer the newly revamped Top Gear or the behermoth that is The Grand Tour, there’s one thing you need to remember – and that is competition is a good thing. It is Mercedes-Benz vs BMW, Ford vs Chevrolet, Coke vs Pepsi, Apple vs Samsung, PS4 vs…. well, you get the idea.

When it comes to anything at all, a bit of friendly competition means people strive to try harder than what they otherwise might have done. Competition keeps people and companies on their toes and performing at their best of their abilities, and you can be certain that the respective production teams at Top Gear and The Grand Tour are doing absolutely everything they can to compete with and out-do each other in every regard.

If Top Gear were to ever be cancelled in the near future, the team over at The Grand Tour suddenly wouldn’t have to try as hard to succeed in the future. While this might not be apparent or affect the show immediately, over time stagnation could set in and everybody loses.

So let us all enjoy the fact that we have access to two highly polished and refined car shows to entertain ourselves with – and they’ve even been thoughtfully staggered to air at alternate times of the year. This means there will be less down-time between shows, more quality car content for you and also more variety to enjoy.

How good is that?

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4 COMMENTS

  1. As this was the second series of Top Gear sans Clarkson et al, while I like where this comparison is going, I think I would like to see Series 2 of TGT vs. Series 2 of New Top Gear. We all know some of the segments in Series 1 of The Grand Tour didn’t work and I’m expecting better from Series 2 much like TG made changes for their second run at it. My 2c.

    • Agree… Last Top gear was better then with that redhead clown, but LeBlanc, Harris and Reid together got ZERO charisma and the interviews with guests are just SAD… if not pathetic…
      BBC clearly running out of money, mostly just 2 presenters on trips, making Harris doing the guests drives, that annoying german woman as a Stig and semi-retarded Eddie on top of that…
      GT on the other hand, was too much YANKEE style show… clearly they have been aiming for simply audience too aka americans… screenplays were not the best too… but as was mentioned before : we must wait for one or two more series to make proper battle…

      TG will never be the same as it was, and GT will never be as good as old TG was neither…

      Of course english fanboys will always love that new Top Gear… for simply reason : they are paying for that through TV licence… 😉

      btw
      watching BBC News time to time.. I feel sorry for taxpayers paying for that zion-propaganda news…
      so its still way better to pay for `wooden` Top Gear then… 😉

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