ITV to increase audience reach of British racing following rights deal

UK commercial broadcaster ITV’s exclusive rights deal for British horse racing will provide the sport with an even greater audience reach according to Simon Bazalgette, chief executive of the Jockey Club.

On Saturday, ITV confirmed it had secured a four-year deal, from 2017 to 2020, to show British horse racing on free-to-air television, dislodging commercial rival Channel 4 following a competitive tender process.

Reports suggest the deal is worth a total of £30m (€40.5m/$44.3m), marking a significant increase on the previous cycle, when Channel 4 reportedly agreed to pay between £15m and £20m for the rights over four years, from 2013 to 2016.

ITV will show nearly 100 days of racing each year, including all the marquee events on ITV’s main channel, such as the Cheltenham Festival, the Grand National, the Derby, Royal Ascot, British Champions Day, Goodwood Festival, Ebor Festival and the St Leger.

ITV will broadcast a minimum of 34 fixtures on its main channel and 60 on digital channel ITV4, in addition to a magazine preview programme broadcast every Saturday morning on ITV4.

Racecourse Media Group led the negotiating team, which also included UK racecourses and the British Champions Series.

“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 the rights fee,” Bazalgette said. “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 per cent of the UK each year through our latest exclusive partnership.”