Image: BBC Worldwide
Image: BBC Worldwide
Hours after Top Gear presenter Chris Evans took to Twitter to defend the show’s falling UK viewing figures, the show’s US broadcaster revealed his debut episode had flopped with American audiences.

The opening episode of the final series to star Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May pulled in 530,000 US viewers, but Evans’ first appearance attracted just 388,000.

BBC America said the opening show faced tough competition from the finals of the NBA Western Conference and ice hockey’s Stanley Cup, as well as the drama mini-series Roots.

However even when those who watched recordings of the episode within three days of it airing are taken into account, the show dropped from 792,000 for Clarkson to 547,000 for Evans and co-host Matt LeBlanc’s version.

In the UK the show’s ratings plummeted to just 2.8million for the second episode as hoards of unhappy viewers walked away from the series following last week’s “disappointing” opening episode.

On Monday Evans claimed that strong demand for the show on BBC’s iPlayer proved the show was reshaping how audiences watched shows.

However the presenter will be unable to make such claims for the poor US figures as the broadcaster’s US channel has no iPlayer-like free service and restricts on-line viewing to paying subscribers.

Despite the audience drop-off, the BBC has praised the show’s latest incarnation and performance.

BBC Entertainment boss Alan Tyler yesterday said: “Chris, Matt and the team once again brilliantly led BBC Two’s biggest show of the day, by some margin.

“It secured a peak audience of 3.3m, and the show again remained the most requested programme on BBC iPlayer.

“With lots more adventures on the way in this new series, including a continental challenge with the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, a luxury car contest in Ireland, stunning review films, plenty of power laps and many more great guests taking on the all-new rallycross track, we are looking forward to Chris, Matt and the gang bringing more of the all-new Top Gear to our audiences.”

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