Clarkson was fired from the BBC for physically attacking a member of Top Gear’s production staff in March.
Amazon said the new show, to be overseen by the trio’s long-time executive producer Andy Wilman, will be available on its subscription streaming service Amazon Prime next year and will run for three seasons. It gave no further details of the as-yet unnamed show.
Clarkson, 55, was replaced as lead presenter of the globally popular Top Gear — aired in more than 200 countries — by television presenter and DJ Chris Evans.
Clarkson, who had generated both controversy and profits for Britain’s publicly-funded broadcaster, was on a final warning over accusations last year that he had used racist language while filming the show.
Last October, the show sparked a diplomatic incident between Britain and Argentina, which went to war in 1982 over the Falkland Islands. A Top Gear television crew was forced to flee Argentina after driving a Porsche 928 GT with the registration number H982 FKL, which some people suggested could refer to the Falklands conflict.
Clarkson said moving to Amazon’s streaming service felt “like I’ve climbed out of a biplane and into a spaceship”. May added: “We have become part of the new age of smart TV. Ironic, isn’t it?”
An estimated 350m viewers around the world tuned in to Top Gear each week to watch the three men review cars and try them out in madcap stunts, making it the world’s most popular factual television programme.
Much of the appeal for fans was Clarkson’s straight-talking, “man of the people” approach, but critics condemned him as a boorish bigot and he was an increasingly controversial figure even before the altercation with a producer in March.Clarkson reported himself to BBC management after admitting to shouting at and hitting Oisin Tymon, giving him a bleeding lip for which the producer sought hospital treatment.
The BBC subsequently announced it would not renew Clarkson’s contract, while May and Hammond also left the broadcaster. The decision of Clarkson, Hammond, and May to sign with Amazon will cause a big stir in the world of video streaming.
While Netflix is dedicated to video streaming, Amazon Prime is a wider service with a host of benefits and services, ranging from free next-day delivery on physical items from the Amazon online store to cloud photo storage and music streaming, alongside Prime Instant Video. At the moment fellow US-based firm Netflix enjoys supremacy, with a recent survey finding that 63% of those with an Amazon Prime subscription still preferred to stream video from Netflix.
However, the signing of Clarkson, Hammond and May — and the large following they gathered over the years on Top Gear — could persuade thousands more to sign up for Prime, and then take advantage of Prime Instant Video.Though we are still in the relatively early days of the video streaming era, the likes of Amazon and Netflix have already realised that original and exclusive programmes are the biggest draw for users. The new Clarkson, Hammond and May show is by far the biggest to tick that box so far.