The Blunt Reason Netflix Passed On The Top Gear Hosts' New Show

Whenever it became clear that Jeremy Clarkson’s firing fired from Top Gear meant that he and his co-hosts’ days on the BBC were over, no one thought for a second that it would actually be the last we’d see of the speed demon trio. But while many assumed that Netflix might be their future home, they headed over to Amazon for an enormous price. And Netflix isn’t upset about that in the least, and the company has a solid reason for not diving into the bidding war headfirst.

Netflix has seemingly no problems with getting behind projects that don’t have built-in fanbases, and you’d think that a show formed around the internationally known Top Gear guys would have been a great fit in their library, but the service wasn’t convinced that the audience is as rabid as public opinion says, and execs don’t think they were worth the money that Amazon shelled out (which came out to around $250 million for three 12-episode seasons). Here’s how Netflix’s Chief Product Officer Neil Hunt put it to DigitalSpy.

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].

Shots fired, yeah? But shots that come from an organically intelligent place. If Netflix knows that its subscribers aren’t extremely interested in the Top Gear seasons that they already have on there, there’s no reason to think that the customers would become even more excited for a series that isn’t even under the Top Gear brand. Granted, it’ll be in the same ballpark (or highway, as it were), but it’s still a risk.

Netflix has made it clear in the past that they aren’t that interested in getting invested in reality TV shows anyway, although I guess this skews closer to the mold of their docu-series Chef’s Table. In any case, it’s clear that no one at the company felt the need to test those waters with Jeremy Clarkson and his often outspoken ways.

Hunt obviously thinks that Amazon wasn’t making a brilliant move by dropping that much money on the trio, and he doesn’t seem to be worried in the least that the rival is able and willing to spend that much on its own original programming.

We’re much bigger, so we have bigger checks to write.

Kaboom. It’s unclear when Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May’s new show will be released on Amazon, but you can bet that Neil Hunt won’t be watching. Meanwhile, the BBC is apparently pleased with their newest Top Gear host Chris Evans, and the new iteration of the show will premiere in 2016.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.