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.