New Top Gear is a bigger hit without Jeremy Clarkson

And on that bombshell…

Top Gear Richard Hammond Jeremy Clarkson James May
Flop Gear? The BBC show will go on without Clarkson, May and Hammond. Image Photo BBC Pictures

The Chris Evans-led Top Gear revamp may have been lambasted by fans and a ratings flop in the UK, but somehow it’s been a bigger hit for the BBC than the Jeremy Clarkson version.

The reason? Top Gear is such a big brand for the BBC overseas that it’s commercial arm BBC Worldwide has still been able to make a killing on it.

According to The Guardian, sales of the format to foreign territories, books, DVDs, lives shows and assorted merch is worth more than £50 million a year to the Beeb.

It turns out the car show has posted bigger profits than it did during Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond’s tenure.

“It is absolutely the case I think that Top Gear remains in very good health.”

“I am very happy with programme sales,” said BBC Worldwide chief executive Tim Davie. “[Top Gear] has sold into over 130 territories which is very strong and marginal growth versus the previous season [Clarkson’s last].

“It is absolutely the case I think that Top Gear remains in very good health. It is a work in progress and we will have to see how it goes. I remain optimistic about Top Gear and its growth potential over the coming years.”

No doubt the presence of Matt LeBlanc, an international TV star thanks to Friends, has given it a crucial profile lift overseas.

Elsewhere, off-shoot Top Gear China has reportedly turned into a major cash cow, netting more than 300 million viewers on digital services.

The BBC might take a hit in the live profits, though. There are apparently no plans to revive the arena shows with the new-look presenting team.

The future? Departed host Chris Evans reckons LeBlanc will be “the captain” steering Top Gear in its future endeavours.

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Loaded digital media manager Simon Reynolds has written about film and entertainment for various leading websites since 2008. Follow Simon at @simonreyn

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