Potential deals with ITV and Sky were thought to be off limits due to contractual clauses preventing the trio from appearing on direct BBC TV rivals until 2017. Streaming services such as Amazon Video are exempted from such restrictions.
The BBC has announced that Top Gear will return with a new presenting team headed by Chris Evans.
From Amazon's point of view, the investment in a 'new Top Gear' represents a serious statement of intent.
Amazon Video comes as part of the Amazon Prime package, which costs £79 per year for UK subscribers. For most people, the incentive is to get free delivery of items ordered online, rather than to get access to the streaming video and music services which are also part of the subscription. Being the only place that you can watch Messrs Clarkson, Hammond and May could be incentive enough for fans to put their hands in their pockets. The video service is also available for £5.99 per month if you prefer.
Not all Amazon Video content is available to Prime customers and it is not yet clear whether there will be a further charge for those wanting to watch the new show. The main ways to get the broadcasts on your telly are using games consoles, compatible Blu-Ray players or watching Smart TV apps.
Top Gear is famous for its high production values and sumptuous camera work. Amazon's service offers a good selection of 4K films and TV shows. You'll find around 37 hours of TV, including many Amazon Originals shows such as Alpha House Season 2, Mad Dogs and Transparent, all available in 4K and all included in the Prime price. The trio's trademark combination of wide-open landscapes, sumptuous motors and buffoon-like behaviour would be the perfect advert for the service.
It's not the first time that Amazon has picked up a BBC cast-off. Grisly drama Ripper Street was canned after two series by the BBC, but production was picked up by Amazon for the third series. The series was then licensed back to the BBC for TV broadcast for a fee.
This situation is not the same because only the presenting and production team are carried over, rather than the programme per se. That said, if the new Chris Evans-fronted TG fails to find favour with viewers, it's not beyond the realms of possibility that Auntie Beeb could licence the new show back. This would diffuse the political pressure that comes with having high-ticket talent on the payroll, although without the rich revenue stream which meant the BBC were willing to stomach the show's social faux pas for as long as it did.
Whatever the outcome, it is ultimately good news, whether or not you like Clarkson, Hammond, May and Wilman's collective work. If you don't, your licence fee is not contributing to their high jinks, and if you do, they will back on your TV before the daffodils are out.
We're looking forward to it already.