Amazon paying top dollar for Clarkson and colleagues
Amazon paying more than $100m a year for former Top Gear crew
The founder and CEO of Amazon has admitted that signing up Top Gear trio Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond for a new online motoring show was 'very, very, very expensive'.
Jeff Bezos declined to say how much the three presenters were being paid but the deal is said to be worth around around $380m over three years.
The first series of the show is due to launch next year on the online retailer's streaming video service Amazon Prime.
Mr Bezos said he was 'very excited' by the acquisition but told James Quinn of the Sunday Telegraph newspaper that Clarkson, May and Hammond were 'worth a lot, and they know it'.
When asked whether the new programme will come to define Prime by growing the service's popularity in the UK, he said: 'It can't just be one show, it has to be a number of things.
'We have a lot of things in the pipeline, which I think viewers in the UK and around the world are going to love. And I think Clarkson's new show is going to be one of those.
'I think we're in a golden age of television, so if you go back in time even just five years, you couldn't get A-list talent to do TV serials, or, if you could, it was a rare thing. But that's flipped completely.
Because Amazon is a US-owned internet brand, the deal gets round a ban on Clarkson, 55, doing a car show with another UK broadcaster until 2017.
When the new show does launch, it could go head to head with the BBC’s own Top Gear revamp headed by Chris Evans.
The Amazon programme will be overseen by the trio’s longstanding executive producer, Andy Wilman, a schoolfriend of Clarkson who was widely acknowledged as the brains behind Top Gear and the inspiration for some of its more controversial moments.
Mr Wilman previously told Broadcast, the TV industry magazine, that the budget for the series was so good, its production manager would be able to ‘run ****ing riot with money’.
However, fans will have to sign up to Amazon’s $188-a-year Prime service before they can watch Clarkson, May and Hammond – and many will have to pay even more to rig their televisions up to the internet.
Mr Bezos also spoke about another business line his company is currently pursuing - the use of drones to deliver packages.
Prime Air drones are currently being worked on at a number of research centres, including in Cambridge in the UK, and Mr Bezos believes one day 'Prime Air deliveries will be as common as seeing a mail truck'.
He wouldn't say in which country the service would launch but suggested the UK would likely be one of the first in line to receive the service.