How the new Top Gear turned into #FlopGear on social media

June 1 2016
Published in Trends

Sunday evening was the much-awaited first episode of the new Top Gear, hosted by Chris Evans and Matt LeBlanc. Fans have been waiting with baited breath to see whether the new hosts would meet the show’s previous standard, and many were not impressed. The new version of one of the BBC’s most popular shows was highly criticized on social media and in the press, and we used Visibrain to find out what people had to say.

Mentions spike during the show

The new Top Gear certainly didn’t get off to good start on social media. Mention volumes spiked at 8 pm for the beginning of the show:

An overview of mention volumes for Top Gear during Sunday's episode

It didn’t take long for the backlash to begin. The first negative comments started mere minutes into the episode:

By the end of the hour, there had already been 74,909 mentions of Top Gear online, and things weren’t looking good for the new hosts:

After the show, the number of mentions continued to rise as more and more viewers gave their thoughts on the new Top Gear. The show was slated on Twitter, but many also posted reviews on Facebook and Youtube:

All in all, a poor result for Top Gear.

Top Gear gets a mostly negative verdict on social

There have been over 270,000 online mentions of Top Gear since Sunday’s episode, and the overall verdict is not good. The top hashtags currently associated with Top Gear are negative: #FlopGear, #WontWatchAgain and #RIPtopgear have been used thousands of times and appear in the top 10:

Hashtags most associated with Top Gear

New host Chris Evans also came under fire, with viewers criticizing his over-the-top presenting style and excessive shouting:

The hashtags most commonly associated with Evan’s performance are far from positive: #fail, #boring, #stopshouting, #bringbackclarkson and #cringe all appear frequently in tweets:

The hashtags most commonly associated with Chris Evans

As well as being generally unpopular on social media, Evans lost out in terms of mention volumes too. On Sunday night, he was outstripped on Twitter by Jeremey Clarkson, who was mentioned 22,230 times. Evans himself only appeared 20,625 times. Matt Leblanc comes up as the thrid most-mentioned host, followed by Clarkson’s co-stars Richard Hammond and James May:

  • Jeremy Clarkson: 22,230 mentions
  • Chris Evans: 20,625 mentions
  • Matt LeBlanc: 11,256 mentions
  • Richard Hammond: 5,638 mentions
  • James May: 5,454 mentions

Things didn’t look much better in the press: there have been thousands of articles, blogs posts, Youtube reaction videos and more covering Top Gear’s rocky start.

Interestingly, the most shared article was from Mashable, covering the fact that on the night of the episode, a lot of nasty tweets aimed at Chris Evans (@achrisevans) missed their intended target. Twitter users got his account mixed up with that of Captain America actor Chris Evans (@ChrisEvans), who found himself inexplicably showered with abuse on Sunday night:

Most shared press articles about Sunday's Top Gear episode

The three other most-shared articles from the press are another piece from Mashable about the social media backlash aroudn Top Gear’s new hosts, and two less than glowing reviews of the show from the BBC and the Guardian.

Was Top Gear really #FlopGear?

The new Top Gear got an undeniably bad reaction on social media, but was it really the total disaster some made it out to be?

Not everybody had bad things to say. There were a fair few positive comments, with many people pointing out that it was only the first episode and the show needed time to mature. Some also pointed out that most of those complaining about the show’s new format were huge fans of Clarkson and didn’t even want to give the show a chance:

Chris Evans himself spoke up on Twitter, defending the show’s ratings and audience. He was retweeted hundreds of times:

Tweets sent by Chris Evans defending the new Top Gear

The new Top Gear is in for a bumpy ride on social media. The show may not have had the best of starts, but the producers may manage to turn it around: we’ll have to wait and see how audiences react to the next episode.

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Published in Trends