ITV is among a host of broadcasters banging down Amazon’s door to get hold of the television rights to “The Grand Tour” after it launches on Prime Video in November. Presented by former “Top Gear” host Jeremy Clarkson, it is one of Amazon’s most valuable video properties.
The tech giant has so far been steadfast in its view that it has “no interest” in licensing the original series to network and cable TV companies.
But a British TV industry source tells Business Insider that Amazon has a secret arrangement place if the company changes its mind. A second source with knowledge of the agreement confirmed its existence.
As part of the deal Amazon made with Clarkson, Richard Hammond, James May, and executive producer Andy Wilman last year, the company agreed to work with talent agency IMG to licence so-called “second window rights” to the “The Grand Tour” if and when the time is right.
The deal gives Amazon the right to choose when or if the show is made available on regular TV channels after it airs on Amazon Prime. It may also choose to never allow this to happen.
IMG is part of US talent shop WME-IMG, which represented Clarkson and Wilman during their negotiations with Amazon last year. It has quietly been building up its reputation in TV distribution and was responsible for selling hit BBC spy drama “The Night Manager” to more than 188 countries this year.
Our source said IMG has been informally sounding out interest in the UK in recent weeks. This was strongly refuted by Amazon when contacted by Business Insider.
ITV is particularly keen on “The Grand Tour,” and sources told us that the British commercial broadcaster made enquiries with Amazon last year. Conversations have not moved on, however, after Amazon made clear it has no intention of selling the programme.
“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,” European vice president Jay Marine told The Guardian in April.
But executive producer Wilman hinted last month that he wants “The Grand Tour” to have a life on television. “I’d like it to be seen by as many people as possible. How that comes, I don’t care,” he told the Edinburgh International Television Festival. “The ‘Top Gear’s’ have got a good shelf-life … so I’m hoping this has got a shelf-life too.”
Amazon has previously allowed its original shows to have a second window airing on British television. Two series of period drama “Ripper Street” have been shown on BBC1 some months after launching on Amazon.
IMG could also theoretically help Amazon sell “The Grand Tour” in countries where Prime Video is not available. Prime Video has so far only launched in the US, UK, Germany, Austria, and Japan. “Top Gear” has proved that Clarkson, Hammond, and May have huge global appeal.
The show entered the Guinness Book of World Records in 2013 after being crowned the “world’s most widely watched factual TV programme.” The BBC show was sold to 212 territories around the world, including Ghana, Guatemala, Moldova, and Myanmar.
“The Grand Tour” launches on Amazon on November 18. The production team has been in California in recent days filming the studio elements of the first episode. Amazon announced on Thursday that the UK edition will be filmed in Whitby later this year.
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