Just 4.4 Million People Watched the New Top Gear Last Night

By James O Malley on at

The ratings are in for Chris Evans & co's debut on the newly rebooted Top Gear - and the initial numbers are disappointing.

According to MediaGuardian just 4.4 million people tuned in. That was enough to win the timeslot (23% of all TV viewers at the time tuned in), but below the score that Chris Evans himself said he wanted. At a TV industry launch event recently, he said he'd be "disappointed" if the revamped show didn't hit 5 million people.

Read More: Our review of last night's Top Gear premiere.

At it's peak last night, figures hit 4.7m - 300,000 shy of Evans' target. Though it might not all be bad news, as it could benefit from viewers watching on iPlayer or on DVR after the fact - which will also be eventually taken into account.

As the Graun notes, this figure is also almost two million down on the average viewing figures for the last series under the Clarkson, Hammond and May regime. It is also significantly down on the 8.4m viewers peak that Top Gear once hit when Lewis Hamilton put in an appearance in 2007. (Though any direct comparison with a figure from so long ago isn't great - as TV viewing has fallen across the board thanks to Netflix and streaming and the like.)

The big domestic challenge Top Gear is going to face now is another barrage of negative stories about the figures - and then the same again next week, when the numbers inevitably fall for week 2, like they do for every new show.

Read More: Why Top Gear is doomed regardless of how good it actually is.

Even if these figures do remain disappointing once iPlayer views has been taken into account, the BBC will be just as interested to see how the show performs internationally, as Top Gear is one of the corporation's biggest money spinners. If America loves Evans (and, of course, Matt LeBlanc), then it might be willing for forgive any British disinterest. [MediaGuardian]