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China’s Top Gear claims 200m viewers

The Chinese version of BBC Worldwide (BBCWW)’s motoring format Top Gear has pulled in more than 200 million viewers over the first half of its second season.


China’s Top Gear took first place in its time slot

Hoynee Media’s version, which airs on Shanghai Dragon TV, claimed an audience of 217 million across linear and online services during the first five episodes of its second run, according to BBCWW.

The show launched on Shanghai Dragon TV on October 19 and has been the number one series in its slot for the past four weeks across all cable and pay TV channels nationwide.

BBCWW said an average weekly audience of nine million tuned in to watch live, with the fifth and latest episode attracting more than 11 million viewers. The show featured a race between the three hosts across Shanghai, plus a wind-suit flight and car challenge at Tianmenshan Mountain.

The BBC’s commercial arm added that the second season’s first five episodes had received 173 million views across eight of China’s largest online video websites alone.

It has been a turbulent 12 months for Top Gear after the high-profile exit of Jeremy Clarkson, who hosted the original UK show. He left after a fracas with a producer, who is now suing for racial discrimination, leading to TV and radio personality Chris Evans being brought in during the summer. Some international buyers have questioned whether the new show can live up to its previous incarnation.

Clarkson and co-presenters James May and Richard Hammond then signed a US$250m deal to produce a motoring show with US streamer Amazon Prime. Details of its distribution plans are yet to be revealed.

Top Gear, which earns about £50m (US$75m) a year for BBCWW, airs in more than 200 territories worldwide and has been remade in the US, China, South Korea and France, with an Italian version in the works.

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