It’s a well known fact that all the new Top Gear episodes recorded terrible television ratings, but the BBC iPlayer streaming figures were always an unknown, becoming an easy target for Chris Evans (now ex-Top Gear host) to be used for inflating the rebooted show’s popularity. Now that the iPlayer report has surfaced, Evans couldn’t be more wrong.
The first episode had a less than stellar 4.4 million television viewers despite all the hype and teaser trailers BBC can dish out. Chris Evans was quick to point out on Twitter with some hard hitting ‘FACTS’ that “The new Top Gear is a hit. OFFICIALLY. 23 % audience share. 12% MORE than the opening episode of the last series. These are the FACTS.” and he continues “Top Gear audience grew throughout the hour. FACT. Won its slot. FACT. Still number one on iPlayer. FACT. These are THE FACTS folks.”
When the second episode garnered even fewer viewers, dropping to a dismal 2.8 million viewers (a drop by more than a third), Evans was quick to point out again on Twitter that “Overnight television viewing figures for Top Gear have never been less relevant. Obviously some newspapers prefer to live in the past.” It’s true consumers are changing the way they are viewing television programs, but for a long time those BBC iPlayer viewer numbers have been unknown to the public.
The way Top Gear is being viewed is repositioning the way television is consumed. Last week 9 millions viewers. This week we shall see.
— Chris Evans (@achrisevans) June 6, 2016
Recently the BBC revealed the April, May, June 2016 iPlayer numbers, and Evans couldn’t be further from the truth about media consumption. The presentation revealed that the first Top Gear episode was viewed on the BBC catch-up service 1,443,000 times. By the fourth episode the viewing numbers had dropped to 901,000 times, representing a drop by more than a third.
If you combine both television and iPlayer totals, the viewership has been almost cut in HALF in the four week time span between the first and fourth episode of series 23. If it wasn’t the reports of Evans being a bully, or Matt LeBlanc’s ultimatum of ‘either he goes or I go’, or Evans being investigated for an alleged sexual assault, then these terrible viewing numbers must have been the straw that broke the camel’s back, forcing the BBC to take corrective actions.
The BBC will resume production for series 24 in September 2016, but it hasn’t been confirmed who will return as some of the presenters haven’t even signed contracts yet. Additionally, the new Top Gear frontman, LeBlanc, has other jobs that is higher priority than Top Gear. Overall the new Top Gear looks to be in a state of flux as they try to improve television numbers previously achieved by the old Top gear trio, Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May.
Meanwhile, The Grand Tour will be airing in Fall 2016 and streaming through Amazon Prime, threatening to topple Top Gear as the best automotive show available today.
(Source: BBC iPlayer Figures)