It’s been suspected for months, but now it’s official: Amazon Prime is going global.
The service will begin rolling out its new motoring show, The Grand Tour, internationally in December following its initial launch to current subscribers this week. That means viewers in more than 200 countries will be able to access the series on Amazon’s download and streaming service. It’s unclear for the moment exactly what The Grand Tour‘s role is in Amazon Prime’s anticipated overall offshore expansion. However, speculation at the Edinburgh TV Festival in August was that the launch would be timed to tie in with some of the bigger picture rollout.
The news comes as The Grand Tour is gearing up to launch in Amazon’s current territories on Friday. It was announced by hosts Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond in a YouTube video on Wednesday, in which May said: “We have received a package from Amazon, which contains my glasses and a letter which says in December, we will be launching the show globally, which means you will be able to watch The Grand Tour in over 200 countries around the world.”
The Grand Tour’s first episode, which can be downloaded or streamed on November 18, will be available to Amazon Prime subscribers in the UK, U.S., Germany, Austria and Japan in addition to five other territories before the it goes global next month. It comes during a period of intense marketing for the new motoring series, which has included three synchronized car crashes in London, Berlin and Los Angeles, with badly damaged cars abandoned in the middle of the street labelled with the show’s branding. Clarkson has also been in the news again this week after a story in The Sun said he claimed he was barred from a UK-bound flight by an airport employee because of a 2014 Top Gear controversy, during which the show’s members had to flee Argentina because one of their vehicles had a license plate that appeared to refer to the Falklands War.
In case of any doubt of Amazon’s rollout, Clarkson also tweeted the news:
This is a huge step for Amazon, which has been quietly calculating its global outreach, and means the service could soon be available in more countries than rival Netflix, which currently operates in 190 countries around the world.
It became more apparent that Amazon was ultimately setting itself up for expansion with the company reshuffle announced last month, which saw Amazon Studios promote Head of Drama Development Morgan Wandell to a new post of Head of International Productions while Brad Beale, VP TV Content Acquisition for Prime Video, saw his role expand to include overseeing global selection of series for individual countries and licensing television content on a local and worldwide basis.
During that announcement, the company renamed its movie division to Prime Movies, which includes all aspects of the business including production, distribution and licensing of original films. Jason Ropell, Worldwide Head of Motion Pictures, is at the helm of overseeing worldwide movie content. Bob Berney and Ted Hope report to him and the division’s slate includes a raft of smart, filmmaker-led indies such as Todd Haynes’ Wonderstruck, Doug Liman’s The Wall and Richard Linklater’s Last Flag Flying. This weekend sees the domestic release of its Oscar hopeful Manchester By The Sea, directed by Kenneth Lonergan and starring Casey Affleck.
The promotions were seen as a real validation from Amazon head Roy Price and a signal pointing to company’s growth and expansion so it’s no surprise that the company would begin to roll out internationally with one of its biggest programs to date.
Last year, Clarkson left the BBC after assaulting a member of the Top Gear production team, followed by fellow presenters Hammond and May who jumped ship shortly afterwards. Amazon moved in on the popular trio — a move engineered by UK Film & Strategy Director Chris Bird — to set up rival motoring show The Grand Tour with their long-time exec producer Andy Wilman. The team has committed to three series as part of a global TV deal and will feature short films shot in different locations around the globe.