Forget Leicester versus Spurs, or Barcelona and Real Madrid - this is the big clash of the titans in the world of television this year.
With Chris Evans' revamped Top Gear due to air in May, the old trio of Clarkson, Hammond and May will take to the screens of Amazon Prime subscribers later in the year with their has-it-still-not-got-a-bloody-name-as-yet-untitled motoring show for a winner-takes-all showdown to see who will be king of the road.
However, with all eyes focused on whether Evans will hold on to viewers, few people have stopped to consider whether the Clarkson, Hammond and May show will be a success.
Neil Hunt, a senior executive at Netflix, has been one of the only voices critical of the Amazon deal, saying in September, “We have past episodes of Top Gear, so we have a pretty good gauge of what audiences like. Our buying decisions tend to be somewhat data-driven. We have a lot of data to get the deals we want. Clearly it wasn’t worth the money to make the deal.” The streaming giant later issued an addendum to these remarks, saying “There is an audience for everything and it is not up to us to judge if Amazon has paid too much or not.”
Now Amazon has come out swinging, saying that the rumoured $160m contract was a "safe bet".
Jay Marine, Amazon's European Prime Video boss told The Guardian: "This is on the safer side of bets I’ve made. We look at everything when we consider a new show and deal. The reality is these three guys have made a great show for a long time. They have a passionate following and yeah, sometimes they are controversial. But I can tell you people are excited to see them back on air."
He continued: "Have we paid a lot of money? For sure. But these guys are worth a lot of money. It’s very rare that you find something like this where a team come along who already have a built-in worldwide audience that I would argue is unique. This was one of the most sought-after and highly competitive situations we’ve seen in terms of signing them. We looked at the data every which way and we love this deal."
The idea is, clearly, for this show to be a marquee signing which alone would encourage people to sign up for Amazon Prime - even if the trio offend a few people along the way.
"We do view it as a game-changer," he says. "It is the exact type of show with a passionate audience that people will subscribe for."
Marine explained that they have "no interest" in allowing the show to go out on a terrestrial channel at a later date, saying “There has been sub-licensing interest from others, it is a very sought-after show. But we have no interest in doing that. This is an exclusive show for Amazon Prime members.”
He also revealed that they haven't decided on whether to go with a traditional week-by-week release, or to throw everything online at once.
“We usually binge-release. But we are open to experimenting on that. There is no doubt people have responded well to bingeing. But there is also something nice about a weekly cadence where people are all on the same episode and there is social discussion about what happened last night. Stay tuned, we haven’t made that decision.”