Another week of Top Gear means another report of disappointing ratings. The first episode, which we can all agree was the worst of them all thus far, recorded a decent but not groundbreaking 4.3 million viewers. As each week goes by the ratings have been on a steady decline with the fourth episode being viewed by a dismal 2.34 million viewers. This number sets a new record low which was previously held by an episode aired back in June 15th, 2003, according to The Guardian.These ratings are purely based off of television viewing figures, which Chris Evans believes “have never been less relevant” and that newspapers that rely on such figures “prefer to live in the past.” If you included the BBC iPlayer figures (which we have yet to see official reports) the first week’s episode actually totaled 9 million viewers, according to new Top Gear frontman. It’s unlikely that the 9 million figure has been maintained over the past few weeks as there may be a strong correlation between television and online viewing figures, and ratings have been on a decaying trend.
This decline in ratings may not be groundbreaking news to many, but what the BBC executives think of the show is truly mind-boggling. According to the Mirror:
Alan Tyler, the acting controller of entertainment commissioning, has insisted that executives are pleased with its performance so far.
“We are four episodes into the new Top Gear era with its new presenting line up, and remain really pleased with the way the series is performing,” he said.
“[Sunday] night’s episode was another great watch and yet again was easily the biggest show of the day on BBC Two. Being up against a major sporting event is always tough and that is partly why the series is performing so brilliantly on catch up and BBC iPlayer.”
We’ll believe the iPlayer figures when we see it, as currently only the January iPlayer numbers are available. The silver lining behind the latest ratings drop is that the figures seem to have stabilized, establishing a floor of repeat weekly viewers. And if the third and fourth episode is any indication then the BBC is already on a corrective action plan: starting with minimizing Chris Evans’ role and utilizing Chris Harris and Rory Reid at a greater capacity. But to be pleased with Top Gear’s ratings performance thus far may just be the BBC being totally delusional.