'Top Gear' viewing figures decline after 13 years

MUMBAI: Even after achieving the best critical response, the third episode of Top Gear featuring Chris Evans is yet to see a reflection in its overnight ratings, which fell to 2.4 million, the lowest figure for the BBC2 show for more than a decade. The show was launched two weeks back with 4.3 million viewers before dipping for its second episode last week.

According to a report, the show’s lowest overnight audience is understood to be the 2.362 million who watched the sixth episode of the second Jeremy Clarkson series on 15 June 2003.

The rebooted show saw live viewership fall to about 2.4 million U.K. viewers. Out of about 170 episodes to date, just one, from June 2003, drew lower live viewership numbers, reports said.

New host Evans has suffered bulk of the criticism after taking over from Clarkson.

The BBC2 show’s Sunday night audience was its lowest for 13 years and only narrowly avoided being the lowest audience for any episode of Top Gear since it was reinvented by Jeremy Clarkson in 2002.

The show’s ratings are expected to increase when catch-up figures from fans watching online are taken into account but will likely still fall behind the numbers Clarkson and his co-hosts Richard Hammond and James May pulled in.

Evans has stood by Top Gear from a mauling, arguing on his Twitter account recently that “Overnight television viewing figures have never been less relevant but newspapers prefer to live in the past”. The previous week, he responded to critics by quoting overnight figures and writing: “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.”

The response on Twitter was generally more favourable to the show but it was not enough to turn around its overnight ratings slide.

It will be interesting to see what does the team put into place to get more viewers from the upcoming episodes.

The series is the first since previous Top Gear presenters Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May left after Clarkson was fired for punching producer Oisin Tymon in 2015.

Reports also suggest that, Clarkson, Hammond and May will present a new car series, The Grand Tour, on Amazon Prime in autumn. The trio have signed a deal with the on-demand channel for three series of 12 hour-long episodes.

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