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Amazon’s ‘The Grand Tour’ car show smashes streaming record on debut

The first episode of the reincarnation of the hit TV series "Top Gear" has become the biggest show premiere on Amazon's streaming service.

"Millions of Prime members" streamed the first episode of "The Grand Tour" over the opening weekend in the U.S., the U.K., Germany, Austria, and Japan, the company said in a press release on Monday.

Viewership exceeded the previous record-breaking debut which was called "The Man in the High Castle", Amazon said without revealing exact figures. On the day that "The Grand Tour" debuted, total new Prime membership signups exceeded all previous days, apart from on its annual shopping event Prime Day.

The Grand Tour an Amazon original series
Source: Amazon
The Grand Tour an Amazon original series

Amazon Prime is the e-commerce giant's $99-a-year subscription service that gives users access to same-day deliveries, music and video streaming services. Prime Video is the name of Amazon's movie and TV streaming service included with the yearly subscription. The spike in Prime memberships was helped by the fact that Amazon cut its Prime membership price down to $79 over the debut weekend of "The Grand Tour".

Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May star in "The Grand Tour" which follows the trio's car adventures across the world. Amazon signed the group up last year after their show on the BBC called "Top Gear" was axed following a "fracas" involving Clarkson.

"The guys are back, doing what they do best - the chemistry between Jeremy, Richard and James is what makes 'The Grand Tour' so entertaining," Jeff Bezos, chief executive of Amazon, said in a press release.

Previous reports suggested that Amazon paid around $160 million to acquire the show. But, rival Netflix's Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said this number is likely to be low.

"That's an under-reported number," said Sarandos. "It was about a quarter of a billion dollars. We'll be able to figure out later what it was that made the show the show. It'll be interesting with 'Grand Tour' to see how much of that is the players, who in many cases are big personalities, but what elements of Top Gear will people miss?" Sarandos told The Telegraph in an interview on Monday.

The Netflix executive said that the streaming service also "made a play" for the show.

Both streaming services are on a spending drive to make original content. Netflix forecast that it will spend $6 billion on content in 2016 with 1,000 hours of new originally produced shows. In July, Amazon said it will double its video content spend in the second half of 2016, and triple its spending on original content.