In an announcement that was not surprising, History Channel has cancelled the USA version of Top Gear. A side affect of the Top Gear on BBC meltdown across the pond, Top Gear USA deserved better.
With little fanfare, once the final credits rolled from a very entertaining episode of Top Gear USA, the show came to an end. After six seasons and 72 episodes, the word started leaking out on Monday that History made the decision not to renew the show. At first glance you might not see it, but the turmoil the BBC show went threw started the American version on the path to cancellation.
When the show started in 2011, it was almost a carbon copy of its British counterpart with a runway based test track, studio audience, star in a reasonably priced car and so on. Over time, the show morphed into its own and found a great chemistry with its three hosts. Adam Ferrera, Tanner Foust, and Rutledge Wood had really found there stride and made that show their own as they veered away from the BBC shows format.
A huge factor in the cancellation of the show was the slotting of the new series, to be aired at the same time the original on BBC America aired their Top Gear. Until this series, the American version would broadcast repeats of the prior series while BBC America aired fresh originals of their show. Once the series finished its premier run, History would start their new series and the shows never competed directly on the calendar. This season BBC America would premier a new Top Gear in the USA on Monday night and History would unveil a new Top Gear USA on Tuesday. The ratings of both shows have taken a hard hit for both shows.
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The current series of History’s Top Gear was failing to to break out in its slot on Tuesday nights. Discovery’s Deadliest catch recorded 1.94 viewers as the last Top Gear USA episode was only able to attract 740,000 viewers for what turned out to be its second to last airing. History channel had American Pickers draw over 2.4 million viewers and Pawn Stars 1.9 million viewers the following night for original airings. Against those comparable style shows, Top Gear USA did not stand a chance.
In an interesting twist, reports are surfacing that the BBC is looking for a new broadcast partner and is not giving up on the American show. There are several options on American television for Top Gear USA to land, the BBC rights fees for the show could be the sticking point. Discovery networks would seem to make sense with its Velocity network having briefly aired the recently canceled Fifth Gear. If the financial situation can be worked out, I would not be surprised to see Tanner, Adam and Rutledge back on American television soon.