Following on from our previous piece about the Top Gear steak-gate controversy, a recent article in the Telegraph has suggested Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard (not a real hamster) “The Hamster” Hammond have been unable to set up a rival show on ITV due to restrictive covenants in their previous contract.
It seems that the trio can make a show for ITV but it cannot be about cars so at present the idea is on hold. It has been hinted that there are two possible options:
1) Wait two years for the covenant to expire and begin an ITV rival to Top Gear in 2017.
2) Take the show to a non-UK channel such as Netflix or Amazon that will bypass the restrictive covenant.
If I was the BBC I would be most concerned about option 2. By 2017 Chris Evans will have had chance to entrench himself into Top Gear fans head and after two years of no rival show any defectors will have probably returned to viewing. Furthermore BBC to ITV crossovers rarely work, anyone remember Adrien Chiles? Actually, it’s better no one remembers those dark times.
On the other hand going to Netflix or a similar non-UK network would allow an instant competitor to Top Gear. This would have more global broadcasting power than ITV and be easily available in the UK as well.
Restrictive covenants can be notoriously hard to enforce but with Top Gear being a key BBC brand worth over £50 million in global revenue it is worth fighting to make sure that such a valuable asset is safe in what will be a transitional phase. To be deemed enforceable the covenant must be; reasonable, necessary to protect business interest, and, last no longer than necessary to protect said interests.
Depending on your view of Top Gear and its former presenters will depend on whether you think the covenant meets the criteria and therefore enforceable. As someone who doesn’t’ like Top Gear or Jeremy Clarkson I am far more interested in outcome of this this than the future versions of the show.