Matt Imi, CEO of At The Races talks to the Sport Industry Group about a new era for At the Races, following its acquisition of rights to Royal Ascot and the Kentucky Derby and the introduction of new betting legislation.
Tell us about the Ascot deal and what it means for ATR moving forward?
Sky Sports Racing will replace At The Races on 1st January 2019 and from 1st March 2019 all of Ascot’s fixtures will be broadcast on the new channel. We’ll also be managing the online streaming of these fixtures for all remote UK betting operators through our highly respected and successful Sport Mediastream platform.
To attract a racecourse like Ascot, following from the switch made by Chester and Bangor-on-Dee announced in May, is testimony to Sky’s commitment to racing and all it can offer as well as to the way we like to work with racecourse partners and the support we can offer them. We will have a first class, new broadcast facility at Sky’s studios that will help us move the dial in terms of the standards of daily racing coverage in the UK. It will also enable us to deliver powerful cross-promotional opportunities across a range of Sky Sports platforms that reach millions of sports fans. Of course, it’s hugely exciting to have Ascot on board as a partner from March next year and we look forward to working with the racecourse team.
You lost Irish racing at the beginning of the year, how big a blow was that?
We moved on from that very quickly and are now focus on the exciting plans we have for Sky Sports Racing. We look forward to working with all of our domestic and international racecourse partners to ensure our launch in HD on January 1st is as strong as possible and that we maximise the audience reach and considerable cross-platform exposure Sky Sports Racing will offer.
You’ve had other major media rights acquisitions with Bangor and Chester Racecourses, along with your Breeder’s Cup and Kentucky Derby renewal; will there be more to come?
We believe we have a lot to offer the sport and are very happy to talk through our plans with any UK racecourse. We are focused on making Sky Sports Racing a great showcase and home for racing, something which will benefit the sport as a whole.
Will the maximum stake reduction to £2 for Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) be a big blow to ATR?
None of ATR’s revenues are linked to LBO (Licensed Betting Office) distribution as all our racecourse partners license their own content directly to retail bookmakers through TRP. We continue to operate our own streaming business for online operators and that goes from strength to strength. Our 22 bookmaker partners receive a streaming service now in the UK and all value the reliability, quality and performance they get from our Sport Mediastream platform. We deliver over 75,000 betting events a year online with thoroughbred and greyhound racing available from UK, US, Australia, South Africa and India.
Moving forward, will there be room for two dedicated racing channels in the UK?
There has been room for two channels for 14 years already, despite many saying it would never work. Again, all we will say is we are focused on making Sky Sports Racing a great showcase and home for racing and that will be beneficial to all in the industry.
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