Netflix is in talks with the BBC to air the revamped Top Gear in a deal that could see the show go head to head globally with Jeremy Clarkson’s new Amazon Prime show.
Driven by Chris Evans, with co-hosts including Matt Le Blanc and Eddie Jordan, the BBC show is understood to have gone down well with overseas buyers when a clip was aired at a showcase in Liverpool last month. Among the buyers were executives from Netflix, which already airs old Top Gear episodes from Series 17 onwards, and has 75 million subscribers around the world. The talks are understood to be in early stages.
Netflix’s interest is likely to cause some concern at rival Amazon, which spent a reported £160m hiring the original Top Gear trio of Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May and their executive producer Andy Wilman to make a new car show.
Before the quartet signed with Amazon, Netflix did the maths on a deal but concluded it was too expensive. At the time Netflix’s chief product officer Neil Hunt told Digital Spy that his rivals had paid too much: “We have past episodes of Top Gear, so we have a pretty good gauge of what audiences like. Our buying decisions tend to be somewhat data-driven. We have a lot of data to get the deals we want, so there we go. Clearly it wasn’t worth the money to make the deal … I think they sold themselves for way more money [than they’re worth].”
Netflix subsequently backtracked on these comments, however you can also be sure that the price to secure the rights for Top Gear would now be a fraction of the original cost – due to the departure of Clarkson, Hammond and May.
Both the BBC and Netflix have declined to comment.