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Top Gear ratings fall in US despite Matt LeBlanc hosting

Published 07/06/2016

Top Gear presenters Chris Evans, left, and Matt LeBlanc filming for the new series in Blackpool
Top Gear presenters Chris Evans, left, and Matt LeBlanc filming for the new series in Blackpool

Top Gear may have a new American host but the opening show saw its audience plummet in the US compared to the last series, latest figures have revealed.

The first episode of the revamped programme, fronted by American actor Matt LeBlanc and Chris Evans, attracted 388,000 viewers when it aired on May 30, according to Nielsen ratings, which also include recorded viewings that night.

This compared with 530,000 viewers for the opening episode of the previous series, presented by Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May.

BBC America, which released the ratings, said Top Gear's opening show faced tough competition from two high-profile sports events - the finals of the NBA Western Conference and ice hockey's Stanley Cup - as well as the drama mini-series Roots.

A spokeswoman said: "Premiere night was an incredibly competitive evening in the US with programmes that attracted a heavily male-skewing audience, which overlaps greatly with the BBC America audience."

Other ratings which included recorded viewings three days after Top Gear was shown in America also fell. Some 547, 000 viewers were recorded for the season premiere, compared with 792,000 viewers for the last series.

The US viewing figures come after the BBC defended Top Gear's performance in the UK despite a sharp fall in ratings on its second outing.

Overnight ratings showed that the latest instalment of the BBC Two motoring programme drew 2.8 million viewers, losing around a third of the 4.4 million who watched its relaunch on May 29.

The audience grew throughout the episode, peaking at 3.3 million, but failed to match the ratings of Antiques Roadshow and Soccer Aid.

Alan Tyler, acting controller of BBC Entertainment Commissioning, insisted Top Gear's new presenting team had "brilliantly led BBC Two's biggest show of the day, by some margin".

Evans, 50, and former Friends star LeBlanc, 48, took over presenting duties on Top Gear after Clarkson was sacked for an "unprovoked physical and verbal attack" on a producer.

Clarkson and his former co-hosts May and Hammond will be back with a new Amazon Prime motoring show called The Grand Tour, which will make its debut on the streaming service in the autumn.

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