Amazon snaps up former 'Top Gear' trio for new motoring show

Amazon has announced that it's signed a deal with ousted Top Gear presenters Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond for a new motoring show. The stars of the popular BBC franchise left the program earlier this year when Clarkson was fired as a consequence of punching a producer. Almost instantly, rumors of the trio launching a rival with another broadcaster spread, with Netflix the surprise front-runner.

It's a big deal for Amazon, since it's able to bloody the nose of its most immediate rival and is likely to have a mass-market hit on its hands. After all, Top Gear is, or was, the world's most watched factual program with a global audience of roughly 350 million people per year. If even only a small proportion of those pay to join Prime, then it'll still make the company some very serious bank. It's not the first time that Amazon has stepped in to "save" a BBC show either, since it's previously bankrolled two seasons of Ripper Street after it was cancelled.

In addition to the presenting trio, producer Andy Wilman, arguably the chief creative force behind the show's resurgence, is also on board for the new production. If you're not in a country where Prime is available, don't worry just yet, as the Wall Street Journal believes that Amazon will license the shows to local broadcasters. Still, there's plenty of time for Jeff Bezos and co. to expand the service's reach, since the first of three seasons won't start airing until 2016.