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HBA Media to follow Pitch in distributing Ascot’s international media rights

Ascot Racecourse has appointed horse racing media-rights agency HBA Media to market its global media rights in a five-year deal.

The deal is effective immediately and grants HBA Media responsibility for the distribution of the Berkshire racecourse’s non-betting international media-rights portfolio.

HBA Media’s agreement covers the signature Royal Ascot festival, as well as all flat and national hunt racing, excluding British Champions Day.

HBA Media will succeed the Pitch International agency in distributing the international rights.

Pitch signed a long-term deal with Ascot and Racecourse Media Group in 2012, through which it distributed international non-betting media rights (excluding the Middle East and North Africa) to events at the track, alongside races at 33 other UK racecourses under the RMG umbrella.

RMG then took its rights distribution in-house in 2017 but Ascot retained Pitch to sell its international non-betting media rights.

HBA Media chief executive Henry Birtles said today (Wednesday): “These are very exciting times for horse racing, with the emergence of so many new platforms and opportunities, through which we can now promote our great sport to the audiences we have all strived to reach.

“To have Ascot on our books represents ‘a pinch me moment’ and we cannot wait to get going. With sports rights, the power is in the collective and we can now leverage sales for individual clients through the growing collection of showcase international races HBA Media has the honour of representing.”

The contract win represents a high-profile piece of business with a domestic horse racing property for an agency best known for its distribution of rights to leading international events. HBA Media already sells the rights to the Melbourne Cup, Breeders’ Cup and Pegasus World Cup, and recently landed a multi-year deal to distribute media rights to the world’s richest race, the $20m (€17.7m) Saudi Cup.

In February, Ascot Racecourse awarded its international betting rights to UK pay-TV broadcaster At The Races (now Sky Sports Racing), and SIS, a provider of end-to-end products and services to the betting and broadcast industries. The deals run through to the end of 2021 and allow the respective parties the exclusive right to show live racing coverage, for betting purposes as well as into licensed betting offices within their territories.

Commenting on the new international rights deal, Juliet Slot, chief commercial officer at Ascot, remarked: “HBA Media’s business model clearly displays an unrivalled knowledge and understanding of international media rights within the horseracing sector; and we are delighted to have appointed them to market our global media rights. We are confident that Ascot will benefit hugely from this exciting new venture.”