ITV wins horse racing TV rights deal

ITV has won the rights to broadcast racing in Britain from next year, it emerged last night.

The broadcaster will take over from Channel 4, whose association with racing will end at the end of this year.

ITV’s deal will run for four years, from 2017. Reports last night suggested ITV paid around €40 million for the rights deal.

ITV will focus its coverage on the blue riband events in racing.

Among the events expected to be featured on ITV will be Cheltenham, the Grand National, the Derby and Royal Ascot.

It is expected to broadcast about 25 days of coverage on the main channel, with the rest on one of its other channels, most likely ITV4.

Channel 4 currently covers around 90 days racing a year.

Channel 4 took over the exclusive coverage of British racing from BBC in 2013, and despite revamping its format and presentation team — former champion jockey Tony McCoy is now on board — it has been unable to stop a decline in viewing figures.

Channel 4’s broadcast of the King George Chase on St Stephen’s Day reached an average of just 475,000 viewers in Britain.

That compares with 651,000 for the race in 2014.

A Channel 4 spokesperson said last night: “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.”


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