Amazon Overpays for Top Gear Stars, Apple TV Getting Original Programming

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In a recent interview with Digital Spy, Neil Hunt, Netflix’s chief product officer, said that Top Gear “wasn’t worth the money” Amazon paid in order to outbid them for the show.

Top Gear, an incredibly popular hit car show that airs on BBC, has been rife with controversy since its host, Jeremy Clarkson, was fired following a “fracas” with one of the show’s producers, Oisin Tymon. Clarkson was quickly followed by the other two Top Gear hosts, Richard Hammond and James May, and the stars became the center of a bidding war as they sought footing online. For a while it was assumed Netflix would come out on top, but Amazon wound up the victors by paying a rumored $250 million for 36 episodes of an original car show starring Clarkson, May and Hammond.

In the same interview, Neil Hunt qualifies Netflix’s position, stating, “We have past episodes of Top Gear, so we have a pretty good gauge of what audiences like.” Until earlier this year, Netflix offered seasons 1 – 20, but the first 16 seasons were removed after they made a new deal with BBC.

Hunt continued, saying, “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.”

During the height of its controversy, even before Clarkson was officially fired from the show, CNN reported on five interesting facts about Top Gear. A few important selling points include:

• The show plays in 214 territories worldwide with an estimated global audience of 350 million.

• The brand makes an estimated $225.8 million for the BBC, which includes a website, DVD sales and the UK’s most successful motoring magazine.

• Top Gear holds the Guinness Book of World Records for the most widely watched factual television program in the world.

Of course, Amazon isn’t getting Top Gear, it’s getting the show’s hosts and something similar to it. All signs point to the BBC continuing its hit series with a new set of hosts, but the network hasn’t officially stated whether or not the show will be returning for a 23rd season in light of recent events.
After coming under fire for his bold claims, Neil Hunt later recanted his statement, saying, “There is an audience for everything and it is not up to us to judge if Amazon has paid too much or not.”

Is Apple TV getting Original Programming?

In a bit of related side news, Variety reported that Apple made an “unprecedented bid” for the Top Gear hosts. According to Variety, Apple has been meeting with Hollywood executives in an effort to start creating original TV and movies, which would theoretically appear on Apple TV.

This report seems suspiciously timed, coming just before Apple’s September 9th event where they’re expected to unveil the next Apple TV. Apple would be the fourth major name in online original programming following Netflix, Amazon and Hulu.

Be sure to check back here at DTV USA Forum after September 9th to stay up-to-date on the latest Apple TV news.

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