ITV secures British Horseracing rights

04 Jan 2016

British Horseracing has announced the sport will be broadcast on ITV from 1st January 2017, taking over from Channel 4.

The broadcaster won the tender process for the new four year term and has the rights to show nearly 100 days of racing each year, including the Cheltenham Festival, the Crabbie’s Grand National Meeting, the Investec Derby Festival and Royal Ascot.

The new partnership will reportedly cost ITV £30m to gain the rights and the channel will show a minimum of 34 fixtures on ITV’s main channel and 60 on ITV4. In addition, a magazine preview programme will be broadcast every Saturday morning on ITV4, with the contract running through to December 2020.

Richard FitzGerald, chief executive of Racecourse Media Group (RMG), who headed racing's negotiating team, which included racecourses and British Champions Series, said there was unprecedented interest in screening the sport, last showcased on ITV 31 years ago.

"ITV has made a strong and compelling four year commitment to British horseracing," he said. "ITV places itself at the heart of popular culture and we look forward to working closely with the broadcaster in ensuring racing remains in this fantastic shop window."

Simon Bazalgette, group chief executive of The Jockey Club, said: "The agreement with ITV should provide even greater audience reach for our sport through a combination of ITV1 and ITV4, more days in total on free-to-air TV and significant promotion and programming for racing as an important national sport, as well as a significant increase in rights fee.

“It's a tribute to all involved in the sport that we have benefited from such a competitive process driven by the improving perception of racing's value to broadcasters and commercial partners.

"I’d like to thank Channel 4 wholeheartedly for all their years of great coverage of British Racing, which has helped our sport to reach more than 40% of the UK each year through our latest exclusive partnership. Our courses look forward to working with the team throughout 2016."

Niall Sloane, ITV director of sport, commented: “ITV is delighted to be the home of British horseracing from 2017 and we are thrilled that the sport has chosen us to be their partners. ITV and ITV4 will showcase more than 90 days of races, which include some of the best days in the British sporting calendar and we want our coverage to reach not only its loyal, core audience, but beyond, by capturing the full enjoyment of this most wonderful of sports."

The move comes soon after The Jockey Club announced record attendance figures for 2015, hitting 1.9 million for the first time.

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