Top Gear deal includes back catalogue

clarksonThe battle for Top Gear had two networks waiting with bated breath all last week.

After word had slipped out on Monday that Nine was close to clinching a deal, SBS was doing its best to defend its turf -understandable given it had picked up the title when nobody else wanted to touch it.

SBS had built the brand in Australia and made two local series in order to retain the rights to the UK original.

All week the public broadcaster was hoping its loyalty would see it triumph, but Nine had been chasing it for months. PBL Media already had the rights to the Top Gear Australia magazine through ACP Magazines, as well as the Top Gear Australia website.

Even as late as Friday morning SBS still didn’t know whether it had been successful or not. But it was privately fearing the worst.

BBC Worldwide Australia eventually handed over its prize possession to the more lucrative Nine Network, which had leant on media during the week to help seal the deal.

By early Friday afternoon, SBS had received the bad news and Nine instantly hit “send” on its Press Release.

SBS Managing Director Shaun Brown sought to keep up spirits with staff.

“Clearly this is disappointing news for SBS, but it is important to recognise that we are a lot bigger than just one program, however, successful it has been,” he wrote in an email.

His Press Release expressed both disappointment and pride in establishing the brand in Australia.

GTV9 General Manager Jeffrey Browne told TV Tonight the deal includes both the past and future of the motoring hit.

“As well as a series of the Australian version of that –and I won’t tell you who will be involved in that, but you’ll be spinning your wheels– it is a really big event for us,” he said.

“As well as the next UK series we bought the back catalogue. So you’ll be able to see Top Gear almost every week of the year.

“The only series not available is Series One. So it’s Series Two to Thirteen inclusive, which is a real coup for us.

“You can see the numbers it’s doing on SBS, nearly a million viewers, so we will add substantially to that. But we haven’t confirmed who’s hosting the Australian series.”

Shane Warne’s name has been speculated. Others are hoping Nine might secure Top Gear fanatic Eric Bana.

The Australian version is expected to continue with Freehand Productions, which is part-owned by BBC.

Top Gear Live returns to Sydney’s Acer Arena, also owned by PBL Media, next February.


  1. Heavy sigh. Nine will do what they always do, dumb it down, bland it up, and run it into the ground. The moment it draws fewer than a million viewers nationally they’ll play schedule ping pong with it until finding it on any given night is matter of good luck rather than good management. As for hosts, well they’ve still got to get some value out of the contract they signed with Daddo to host THIS afternoon. He couldn’t drive a news-talk show, maybe he can drive a car and talk at the same time. And don’t expect any review to say so much as a bad word about any car made by a Nine advertiser, even if it is a piece of Korean crap, rebadged as a Holden, that you wouldn’t accept as a gift.

  2. @scott – why would it be moved after 3-6 months? I doubt the classic eps will be in prime-time but we still don’t know their plans or what contact the have signed, maybe the classic eps will be used on GO!?

    As for the new eps there are only a hand full a season so I doubt it would be moved, unless it bombs out.

    Good time new eps start Nov 15 in the UK, I’ll be watching them this year and not in March after to winter games… yes I’m predicting they will not air this (or many of their top shows) until after the games which end Feb 28.

  3. I lost most of my interest in TG a while back now, and having it on Nine won’t win me back. 13 seasons already? It’s gotta be near the end of it’s rope even in Old Blighty. I agree with other posters that Nlne will likely kill it. Sad but almost inevitable I’m afraid.

  4. Here we go, Nine will most likely do the overkill thing and put reruns on 3-4 times a week.

    I love Top Gear and I dont mind re-runs on SBS but wont be watching it on nine.

  5. I for one will not be watching it on the nine network. I give it about 3 to 6 months before we find it on late nite about 11pm and the reason? so many damn ads . bye bye top gear its been fun

  6. Well I for one will not bother watching it on Nine.

    I have enjoyed watching it on SBS, but I fear Nine will screw it up just like everything else it.

    Get ready for it to be placed in a different time slot each week, eventually being relegated to 11.30 on a mid-week night; packed full of ads; starting 10 minutes later than the EPG says; edits galore; etc. etc.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.