Channel 4 to launch production tender for horse racing coverage

UK commercial broadcaster Channel 4 will launch a tender to find a broadcast production partner after acquiring domestic free-to-air rights from the Racecourse Media Group for the Royal Ascot, Derby, Grand National and British Champions Day horse racing events from 2013 to 2016.

Channel 4 will launch a tender this month to find a production partner for its horse racing coverage, and a decision is expected to be made in the summer, according to the Daily Telegraph.

Production company Highflyer’s contract with Channel 4 for the broadcaster’s current horse racing coverage, which includes major races from the Newmarket, Sandown Park, York, Goodwood and Haydock Park courses, will expire at the end of this year.

Channel 4 agreed to pay between £15 million (€17.9 million/$23.4 million) and £20 million over the four years in the new rights deal with Racecourse Media Group, according to the Guardian. Incumbent rights-holder the UK public-service broadcaster the BBC is reported to pay £7.5 million for the rights in a three-year deal, from 2010 to 2012.

“This new deal will not only deliver increased revenues for British racing, but with all of our sport’s crown jewels in its portfolio, Channel 4 offers a compelling vision to innovate the way racing is broadcast,” said Racecourse Media Group chief executive Richard FitzGerald. They have also committed to use diverse programming platforms to promote our sport more widely.”

Channel 4 sports editor Jamie Aitchison added: “I am delighted Channel 4’s 28-year association with racing has now arrived at the point where the industry has demonstrated such confidence in our ability to showcase its complete portfolio.”