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Netflix ‘could pit new Top Gear against Amazon’

Formats-logo-460_2Top Gear ShowcaseSVOD service Netflix is reportedly planning to deflate the tyres of Amazon Studios new Jeremy Clarkson-fronted motoring show by acquiring rights to the BBC’s new-look Top Gear.

The Guardian has reported that talks have begun between Netflix and the BBC, whose commercial arm, BBC Worldwide, sells the Top Gear format and finished tape internationally.

BBCWW recently showcased its latest incarnation of Top Gear, which will be fronted by Chris Evans and Matt LeBlanc, after former hosts Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond signed up to make a rival show for Amazon Prime Instant Video.

Clarkson left the BBC after abusing and hitting a Top Gear producer, Oisin Tymon, following an argument of over food provisions. Clarkson recently apologised to Tymon after settling a £100,000 (US$150,000) racial discrimination and injury claim against the presenter and the BBC.

Buyers were impressed by a clip of the new Top Gear at The BBCWW Showcase in Liverpool, UK, last month, leading to the Netflix talks, the Guardian reported.

Netflix already offers subscribers older episodes of Top Gear, and gaining rights to the new episodes, which will be fronted by a total of seven presenters, would be a significant blow to Amazon.

Netflix recently launched in 130 new territories, meaning it is now distributed in 190 territories overall and in all major territories apart from China. This would give Evan’s Top Gear immediate global reach.

Clarkson’s new show is reportedly budgeted at £160 million, a sum that Netflix’s chief product officer Neil Hunt described as not “worth the money to make the deal”.

Netflix later distanced itself from those comments, which were made to Digital Spy.

The Guardian noted the structure of a potential Top Gear deal was not known.

The BBC plans to launch Top Gear in May, meaning it could begin streaming in other territories on Netflix later this year should a deal be struck. That would be around the same time the new Amazon series, whose title has not yet been revealed, will launch.

The Guardian said the BBC and Netflix declined to comment on the report.