The Grand Tour marks streaming TV hitting the big time

The former Top Gear team are creating a smash on Amazon Prime with The Grand Tour. And others will be following in their tyre tracks.

A little over a week ago, The Grand Tour hit the screens of countries with Amazon Prime Video. This series – already Amazon’s most successful original show – is born from the ashes of the BBC’s massively successful Top Gear series, with the three main presenters jumping ship after Jeremy Clarkson was sacked for some appalling behaviour.

Right now, it’s looking like a bona fide hit:

The debut episode of the highly anticipated new Amazon Original Series, The Grand Tour, has become the biggest show premiere ever on Amazon Prime Video, with millions of Prime members streaming the first episode in the U.S., U.K., Germany, Austria and Japan over the opening weekend. Viewership has even exceeded that of the previous number one show, The Man in The High Castle. Additionally, the day The Grand Tour debuted, total new Prime membership sign-ups exceeded all previous days with the exception of Amazon’s renowned Prime Day.

In the meantime, the BBC’s revamp of Top Gear has fared rather less well. It’s looking like it’s easier to take personalities into a new format than it is to put new celebrities into an existing format.

However, according to a piece in this week’s Spectator this might be just the beginning of an emerging trend away from traditional TV companies and towards Netflix and Amazon:

He thinks there’s no way the BBC can compete with Netflix et al. They just don’t have the ability to attract talent.

“Anyone who can get a green light from streaming or cable networks will go there,” he says. The creative control is greater — the US showrunning culture demands this — and the personal pay cheques are “FAR bigger”.

It’s a fascinating concept – we’ve seen the internet enables cheaper TV, via the YouTube celebrities. Are we now seeing disruption at the other end of the market, with the pan-national nature of the streaming companies allowing them to invest in much more expensive TV?

On the basis of the recent wave of streaming-first shows – I hope so.