Top Gear, BBC and Jeremy Clarkson
Television presenter Jeremy Clarkson in London, on 11 March Reuters

TV star Jeremy Clarkson's recent suspension has resulted in the cancellation of the final two episodes of Top Gear's current series.

Analysts warn that a failure to remedy the situation, and resume the TV show, could hurt the BBC's foreign sales, brand Top Gear and its array of products.

Top Gear earns the BBC over £150m (€211m, $225m) in foreign sales every year and the BBC brand is worth some $6bn, Reuters reported.

Each week, Top Gear is watched by over 350 million viewers globally.

But the broadcaster may not see the same sales receipts without Clarkson.

Main draw

More than 700,000 fans want Clarkson back, and have signed an online petition.

Robert Haigh, communications manager at Brand Finance, told Reuters that Clarkson remains "the main draw for the programme" the worldover "despite the fact that he has managed to offend more or less every nation."

"Clarkson," Haigh said, "Bolsters the BBC's reputation for producing interesting, entertaining programming."

But his recent outburst "can run counter" to the BBC's stellar reputation for quality journalism and "risk damaging the brand in that respect," Haigh added.

BBC's dilemma

IG analyst Chris Beauchamp said the BBC has a dilemma.

Beauchamp told the news agency: "I think if you had a listed company that was poised to lose one of its biggest contributing stars or divisions in this case then the share price reaction would be a very negative one.

"Top Gear without Jeremy Clarkson is perhaps a bit of damp squib and you wouldn't see the same viewing figures."


Nick Thomas, Practice Leader, Digital Media, at Ovum opined that without the TV show, Top Gear "could be heading for the scrap yard."

Thomas wrote in a note: "...Despite the star's deliberate positioning of himself as a conservative bulwark against modern political correctness, the Top Gear brand is among the most successful examples of a TV show embracing traditional and digital media opportunities and becoming a very modern cross-channel 'omnibrand'.

"Like individuals such as Martha Stewart and Jamie Oliver and kids' brands such as Lego, Pokemon, and Disney's Frozen, Top Gear transcends individual media categories; it has created a whole ecosystem of interrelated products around the core brand proposition."

...the TV show remains at the heart of the whole brand proposition, and the question is now whether the Top Gear juggernaut can continue without its star...
- Nick Thomas of Ovum

"...With the support of the BBC's commercial arm, BBC Worldwide, the brand has been extended to and supported by a raft of other products. Physical media spin-offs such as DVDs, books, a monthly magazine (published in 31 countries), and even Top Gear-themed CDs have generated significant revenues and boosted the appeal of the core TV show in a form of virtuous circle. Top Gear has also successfully branched out into the live events business..."

"In addition, Top Gear has found ways to monetize digital media. For example, the Top Gear Stunt School app, which costs £1.99, has been downloaded more than 2.4 million times.

"However, the TV show remains at the heart of the whole brand proposition, and the question is now whether the Top Gear juggernaut can continue without its star at the wheel. The BBC management, it seems, has lost patience with Clarkson after yet another unsavory incident.

"Other broadcasters may want to take the show over, but unless they can sustain the wider omnibrand (much of which is supported by the BBC), then Top Gear – and its array of branded products – could be heading for the scrapyard."