Jeremy Clarkson is back with a new show: here’s how to watch it
But Irish viewers will have to wait a few more weeks for Amazon series
Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May are back on screens from midnight tonight with their new show The Grand Tour
Watch out: Jeremy Clarkson & Co are back. The former Top Gear team signed up with Amazon last year to produce The Grand Tour – a 12-episode series exclusively available on the company’s streaming service.
From midnight, it will be available to download or stream for Prime customers in the UK, Germany, Austria, US and Japan, but not in the Republic – though you can check back here from 1am for The Irish Times review of the first show.
Viewers in the Republic – and in 199 other Amazon territories – will have to wait until next month for the Grand Tour to become available.
But what if you can’t wait? If there’s a yawning Clarkson-shaped hole in your life since he departed Top Gear – sacked after he physically and verbally attacked Irish producer Oisin Tymon in 2015 – the idea of waiting another two weeks or so may be simply too much.
Amazon Prime’s full video service is not yet available in the Republic, so even if you wanted to pay for it, you couldn’t. Well, not legitimately, anyway.
As with everything, there are ways around the geoblocks that stop users from accessing content in other countries.
As part of Amazon Prime’s terms of service, customers commit not to use any means of hiding their location. Of course, that doesn’t mean that people don’t do it. There are many ways to get around giving away your true location to Amazon, from using vouchers to pay for your Prime subscription – getting around any pesky billing address requirements – to using a virtual private network that gives users a fake IP address and therefore a different location. All you need is a VPN that will give you fast enough speeds to stream video. There are plenty of free and paid-for options open to those who go searching.
There are legitimate uses for VPNs – connecting to work services, for example, or keeping your browsing habits hidden from advertisers’ prying eyes. But they can also be used to tell an online service that you are in London or New York, when in reality, you’re in Connemara. It opens up content that would have been blocked to you simply because you aren’t in the right location, or the company you are buying content from doesn’t have the licence to sell to people in your country.
Going down the VPN route comes with an element of risk. Some companies such as Netflix have clamped down on the use of VPNs to access services, although Amazon doesn’t seem to be among them. That doesn’t mean that it won’t in the future, however, especially if rights holders put pressure on them to stop customers using the workaround. That could mean you are stuck with a Prime membership you don’t really need and signed up to a VPN service that you will rarely use.
There are other ways of accessing programmes from other regions, and it’s unlikely Grand Tour will be immune from them simply because it is being screened on a digital service instead of traditional TV. House of Cards, a Netflix series, found its way on to many pirate services when it was initially launched. And Kanye West’s album Life of Pablo may have only been available on streaming music service Tidal at launch, but it quickly appeared on less legitimate sites. About half a million people downloaded a pirated version of the album the day after its release.
Finally there is always YouTube, where segments are likely to show up within hours of broadcast, regardless of the rules and terms of service.
The public’s appetite for watching three middle-aged men discuss motors looks set to be sated, at least for now.