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Netflix vs. Amazon: The Dawn of Top Gear

BY: Alex Perrone
Courtesy of BBC
Courtesy of BBC

Retail and now media juggernaut Amazon has made themselves home to American version of the go to series for gearheads the world over: Top Gear. What does this mean for new episodes of the BBC seasons? The one whose licensing rights are up in the air? Enter video streaming powerhouse Netflix. As of this month, Netflix has made it known to the public that they are in the “early stages” of possible a deal with the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation, who owns Top Gear) for the international streaming rights to the Top Gear reboot, which will be hosted by a six-strong team that includes Chris Evans (not to be confused with Captain America), motorsport veteran Eddie Jordan and Matt LeBlanc aka Joey from Friends.

So that means we’ll have two Top Gear series running concurrently, more for motor enthusiasts if you ask us! They’ll just be on competing streaming platforms. So let’s speculate what the terms would be with such a matter. One possibility is that Netflix becomes the exclusive streaming partner of sorts, or hold rights in countries where the BBC has no syndication options. Netflix does this with shows like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black. Another possibility is that Netflix is positioned as the archive for new Top Gear episodes broadcast 30 days after they hit the. The latter is unlikely since the BBC is planning to launch their own subscription streaming service in the US.

Does this mean Netflix is flipping off Amazon on the highway? A scant few months ago Netflix was putting together Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May for their own in-house motoring show after Clarkson’s departure sparked the implosion of Top Gear as we knew it. Imagine our surprise when  Amazon that ended up at the finish securing the currently unnamed spiritual successor series.

Amazon versus Netflix

However, this is all just speculation. It is possible that Netflix and the BBC are playing coy and aren’t really having serious dialogue. The truth is that the two have had a long-standing working relationship, with many BBC programs licensed to Netflix the world over. In fact, most of the seasons of pre-punch Top Gear are indeed available on the streaming service. Netflix tends keeps a close eye on many high-profile UK shows, such as Channel 4’s Black Mirror, which become a Netflix Original in its 3rd season.

Underneath all of this business jargon and drama, a preview clip of the show was released recently to much received positive feedback from automotive enthusiast and show fans the world over. The airing event also included a few Netflix executives.

Netflix originally turned down the price wanted by the former Top Gear hosts Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May for their new show because it was too high. To put things in perspective the reported and the budget for the  Amazon Prime series is £160 million pounds (about $230 million US dollars).

Will Netflix succeed? Aside from Amazon they face some pretty stiff competition as other international broadcasters want to purchase the show.

Will this be worth it? There have been a lot of negative events related to Chris Evans and the new Top Gear, with Evans reportedly threatening to quit, many auto sites have covered the growing list of the show’s behind the scenes drama. The positive response to the preview was more than enough for Top Gear fans and execs.

The new Top Gear premiers on May 8 on BBC2 with all 16 episodes, while the Amazon Prime series and its planned 36 episodes is due this fall. If the reports and rumors are true you can bet will have the exclusive as to how the two series stack up against each other in the ultimate Top Gear grand prix winner take all showdown. (cue checkered flag).

Courtesy of BBC
Courtesy of BBC

As it stands now, both Netflix and the BBC are keeping mum.

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