Has ‘Top Gear’ Hit Rock Bottom?
The news about the latest season of Top Gear, helmed by Chris Evans (not that one) and Matt LeBlanc just seems to get bleaker with each passing episode. The ratings have continued their slide down, and this week the initial viewing numbers were the lowest Top Gear ratings in the series’ modern history. To make matters worse, betting companies have dramatically lowered the odds of the show receiving a second season, and bet makers think it’s even less likely that Evans would return for a season two.
But has the show really hit rock bottom?
Last week’s live viewing numbers slid to 2.34 million people, which is a modest drop from last week compared to weeks past. The number screams out, though, because it’s below the 2.36 million people that watched the lowest-rated Top Gear episode of Jeremy Clarkson’s reign.
Chris Evans and his supporters are quick to point out that recently new episodes of Top Gear have clashed with Euro 2016 soccer games, which are very popular with the show’s main demographic of young men. Numbers that include catch-up viewing via on demand services and DVRs rise slightly, but not dramatic. It is important to note that viewing numbers as reported to the press do not include internet streaming, like on the BBC iPlayer. It’s possible that more people are watching the show than we think, and the BBC isn’t sharing the information.
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These numbers should be troubling to the BBC, and more recent episodes seem to have been changing to accommodate the internet’s complaints. For instance, many viewers thought Chris Evans shouted too much, and in recent episodes he seems slightly calmer. Viewers seem to appreciate that the other drivers and automotive experts announced as hosts before the series aired are now getting their due screen time. The critics have made note that the episodes have definitely been improving as the show has worn on, and encourage the public to give the show another chance.
The real test for Top Gear will be when it emerges from Euro 2016’s long shadow. Then there will be no more excuses, just cold, hard facts.