Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has said it was "very, very, very expensive" to secure Top Gear's former hosts to present a new motoring show for his company's video streaming service.

The deal is worth around £160m ($250m) for 36 episodes over three years, according to the Financial Times. The new series will debut in 2016.

The entrepreneur snapped up the services of Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond for Amazon Prime customers after beating off competition from rivals, which reportedly included Netflix and ITV. Speaking to the Sunday Telegraph, Bezos said the trio are "worth a lot and they know it".

In recent years, the popularity of TV serials has soared with large budgets and proven talent delivering high viewing figures. "I think we're in a golden age of television," said Bezos, "so if you go back in time even just five years, you couldn't get A-list talent to do TV serials, or, if you could, it was a rare thing. But that's flipped completely."

"We have a lot of things in the pipeline, which I think viewers in the UK and around the world are going to love," he added. "And I think Clarkson's new show is going to be one of those."

The new car-themed show is yet to be named, but the cast will be re-joined by former Top Gear executive producer, Andy Wilman, who also left the BBC after the broadcast refused to renew Clarkson's contract to present Top Gear after he assaulted member of the show's crew in March.

Wilman said the cast had agreed to sign with Amazon as "they'll give us the freedom to make the programme we want… there's a budget to produce programmes of the quality we want and this is the future".

The BBC will relaunch Top Gear next year with Radio 2 DJ Chris Evans taking over from Jeremy Clarkson. The remaining co-hosts are yet to be named, despite supermodel Jodie Kidd being strongly linked to a position on the show.