Who knew that enormously powerful people could be so catty? A senior executive at Netflix says the streaming service declined to sign up the former presenters of BBC’s Top Gear because “it wasn’t worth the money”.
Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May left the BBC earlier this year after Clarkson was fired in the tremendously well publicised hitting of one of the producers. The trio managed to land on their feet though; following the firing according to reports they recently signed a “very, very, very expensive” deal with Amazon Prime.
The rival service, Netflix, has claimed the presenters “sold themselves for way more money” than they are worth.
“We have past episodes of Top Gear, so we have a pretty good gauge of what audiences like,” the company’s chief product officer, Neil Hunt, has recently said in an interview. He would continue saying, “Our buying decisions tend to be somewhat data-driven. We have a lot of data to get the deals we want. Clearly it wasn’t worth the money to make the deal.” Mr Hunt would later be forced to clarify his comments in a 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.”
British broadcaster BT Sport previously said it, too, had declined to bid for the Top Gear trio. Managing director of BT, Delia Bushell, told The Guardian, “To be honest I didn’t consider it. It just wasn’t right for us.” She would however note that, “It’s a fantastic franchise, but it made more sense for a global player like Netflix because Top Gear has huge US revenues as well.”
Clarkson was suspended on March 10th of this year, following an “unprovoked physical attack” on a Top Gear producer in a Yorkshire hotel. It was said to have occurred because no hot food was provided following a day’s filming. A fairly petty reason to hit a man but many feel this type of issue could have been handled internally by the BBC, and yet it was leaked to the press.
Following an internal investigation, the BBC decided not to renew the presenter’s contract. His co-hosts would follow the embattled Clarkson in an impressive display of solidarity in leaving the show.
They have now signed on to produce content for Amazon Prime defined as “a new car-themed programme”, along with one of the BBC producers Andy Wilman, who also quit the BBC following Clarkson’s “fracas”.
Mr Wilman has said they had all agreed to a deal with Amazon because, “They’ll give us the freedom to make the programme we want… there’s a budget to produce programmes of the quality we want and this is the future”.
Although the show’s budget has not been confirmed, the three-series, 36-episode deal was rumoured to have cost Amazon as much as £160 million. This new deal appears to be a way for Amazon Prime to prove itself in the streaming market more than anything, if nothing else it certainly announces their presence on the streaming scene.
The Top Gear brand will continue on BBC Two, with Chris Evans, a previous guest and man who has appeared on the show in other capacities before, in charge of the BBC flagship show.