Top Gear fans were in an ugly spot last year when the BBC decided to air a season of the show that didn't feature hosts James May, Jeremy Clarkson or Richard Hammond. Amazon has stepped in and saved the day with their show The Grand Tour, which has reunited the hosts and is pretty much classic Top Gear with a new title. The good news for Amazon is that the show is incredibly popular. The bad news is that much of that popularity is coming from illegal downloading.
The Daily Mail has published findings from piracy experts MSUO that claim the first episode of The Grand Tour has been pirated a staggering 7.9 million times. The second episode registered slightly less illegal activity, with 6.4 million downloads. Still, those numbers are incredibly high and according to the report, they have cost Amazon roughly $3.4 million. Chris Elkins, MUSO's Chief Commercial Officer had this to say about it.
"It is the most illegally downloaded programme ever. It is off the scale in terms of volume. It has overtaken every big show, including Game Of Thrones, for the totals across different platforms. We monitor thousands of campaigns and this one really stands out."
On one hand, it is probably pretty rough for Amazon to hear that the show is being pirated so much. On the other hand, the show is only being illegally downloaded this much because it has become incredibly popular, meaning that Amazon is also seeing a lot of actual paying customers who want to watch The Grand Tour. HBO similarly has to deal with quite a bit of piracy for their monster hits like Game of Thrones and Westworld. It sort of goes with the territory in the modern age. Amazon hasn't commented on the piracy directly, but they have simply commented on the success of the show, seeming quite happy with the results.
"The Grand Tour has become the biggest show premiere ever on Amazon Prime Video, breaking records around the world."
It makes sense that The Grand Tour is very popular and being pirated so much, since BBC's Top Gear was one of the most popular shows in the world, before last season that is. Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond were hosting the show for quite some time, but there had been incidents with Clarkson over the years, and when he reportedly punched one of the producers in 2015, that was the last straw. He was fired from the show. James May and Richard Hammond did not want to continue the show without him, so they all walked away in a show of solidarity. Amazon swooped in and hired the trio for The Grand Tour, which is essentially Top Gear, but only isn't called Top Gear because they legally couldn't call it that.
Amazon may be losing a fairly significant amount of revenue from piracy, but they will still have plenty of opportunities to capitalize on The Grand Tour in the future. The show has already been picked up for three seasons by Amazon and they will also be releasing a season 1 box set at some point, which should sell fairly well considering the popularity. If you want to watch The Grand Tour through the proper channels, new episodes arrive on Amazon every Friday and are free to stream for Prime members.