Chinese 'Top Gear' Episode Draws Season-High Audience of 11 Million

Issue 54 - Reviews: Top Gear
Courtesy of History

A test Top Gear called Snake vs. Snake raced a Dodge Viper against a Cobra attack helicopter.

The localized version of the BBC's hit motoring show has become a major hit, with the first five episodes of season two attracting an audience of over 200 million across TV and online.

Jeremy Clarkson may currently be revving the engine on his upcoming motoring show for Amazon, while the BBC switches tires on the program the host was famously ousted from earlier in the year. But in China, the local version of Top Gear has been attracting the sort of viewers both could only ever dream of.

The first five episodes of season 2 of Hoynee Media's Chinese Top Gear have so far accumulated a combined audience of 217 million across TV and online, according to the BBC. With an average audience of 9 million watching live, the show, launched on Shanghai Dragon TV last month, has claimed the number one position for its time slot for the past four weeks across all Chinese cable and pay TV channels.

And in a season high, the latest episode, in which the three hosts (a Taiwanese actor-singer, a TV host and a former internet executive) raced across the U.K. in a variety of vehicles, including a tank, attracted 11 million viewers.

The Top Gear franchise's growing popularity in the world's most populous country could well help diminish fears that the brand would be damaged without Clarkson in the driving seat, a concern many fans had when he was sacked in March for punching a producer.

"The success of Top Gear in China once again demonstrates the unique appeal of the world’s favorite motoring entertainment show," said BBC Worldwide's president of global markets, Paul Dempsey. "It’s also testament to a successful collaboration between our own UK producers and their Chinese counterparts who have recreated a British institution for a whole new audience."