Television coverage of racing is set for a huge change from 2017.
It is understood ITV has won the rights to show racing on terrestrial television, replacing Channel 4.
Channel 4’s last broadcast will be of the Betfred Challow Hurdle meeting at Newbury on December 31. It said it wished racing “all the best from 2017”.
Reminder that Virgin Media customers in Ireland don't get ITV... https://t.co/2CNL97zeKl— Dodge (@seidodge) January 1, 2016
ITV winning rights to broadcast UK racing could be v bad news for many Irish viewers as channel is not part of Virgin/UPC package— Brian Flanagan (@BHDFlanagan) January 1, 2016
ITV’s landmark first fixture will then be 24 hours later for the New Year’s Day card at Cheltenham.
Channel 4 itself acquired exclusive broadcast rights in 2013, meaning showcase events such as Royal Ascot and the Derby moved from the BBC.
Much has been made of viewing figures for the sport on Channel 4, which will show Formula One motor racing this year after the BBC cut short its contract.
A Channel 4 spokesperson said tonight: “2016 will be an unprecedented year for premium live sport on Channel 4 as it becomes the new terrestrial home of Formula One alongside the Rio 2016 Paralympics and horse racing.
“We are proud of the award-winning coverage we have given to horse racing over the last three decades – and the 90 days of live terrestrial television exposure per year we have offered the sport, backed by significant editorial investment, marketing and programming across our schedules.
“We wish racing all the best from 2017.”
ITV has an historical link with racing, going back to the days of the ‘ITV Seven’ bet, a key component of the Saturday afternoon ’World of Sport’ programme.
ITV’s coverage moved to Channel 4 in 1985, together with well-known presenters such as Derek Thompson and John McCririck.
The sport has two dedicated channels in Racing UK and At The Races.