British horseracing is returning to ITV after an absence of 31-years. The sport will be broadcast on free-to-air television exclusively by ITV starting on January 1st 2017 after the broadcaster won the tender process for a new four-year term.
“ITV is delighted to be the home of British horseracing from 2017 and we are thrilled that the sport has chosen us to be their partners. ITV and ITV4 will showcase more than 90 days of races, which include some of the best days in the British sporting calendar and we want our coverage to reach not only its loyal, core audience, but beyond, by capturing the full enjoyment of this most wonderful of sports.” – Niall Sloane, ITV Director of Sport,
ITV has secured the rights to show nearly 100 days of racing each year, including all the marquee events on ITV main channel, such as the Cheltenham Festival, the Crabbie’s Grand National Meeting from Aintree, the Investec Derby Festival from Epsom Downs, Royal Ascot and QIPCO British Champions Day from Ascot, Qatar Goodwood Festival, Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival from York and the Ladbrokes St Leger from Doncaster.
Horse racing became a regular fixture on ITV as part of the weekend World of Sport programme and the ITV Seven strand reflecting the seven races the channel screened each week, usually mid-week and weekend offerings. The first race aired on the 4th October 1969 and coverage remained with ITV until 1985 when coverage was slowly moved over to Channel 4, which at that time was a ‘sister station’ to ITV, the latter dumping off any unwanted broadcast formats to the fourth network – this also included ITV Schools programming which followed in 1987. The racing coverage has remained with Channel 4 Racing since its move from ITV in the mid-80s. ITV and Channel 4 parted their association in 1993.
“We would like to thank Channel 4 for the huge support they have given horse racing over the years, and particularly their investment in coverage over the last three years. Channel 4 has been a fantastic partner for British racing and we look forward to continuing to work together in delivering a captivating and enthralling year ahead.” – – Richard FitzGerald, Chief Executive of Racecourse Media Group
ITV will show, from early next year, a minimum of thirty-four fixtures on ITV main channel and sixty on ITV4, in addition to a magazine preview programme broadcast each Saturday morning on ITV4.
No other sport in the UK will enjoy that level of live free-to-air coverage and the contract, which runs through to December 31, 2020, will provide an increase in revenues to British racing. – ITV Sport
The deal, the broadcaster notes, will further enhance ITV’s portfolio of sports rights, which includes the Tour de France, the French Open and exclusive live coverage of the England football team. Following the success of ITV’s Rugby World Cup coverage in 2015, this year sees ITV broadcast 6 Nations Rugby for the first time starting next month, followed by Euro 2016 in the summer.
“ITV has made a strong and compelling four-year commitment to British horseracing. ITV places itself at the heart of popular culture and we look forward to working closely with the broadcaster in ensuring racing remains in this fantastic shop window. This is a great opportunity for everyone in the industry to support ITV in jointly promoting the sport and telling the stories throughout the year to as wide an audience as possible. The unprecedented level of interest in the tender shows what an attractive proposition the sport is. This is reflected in the new deal, which will generate increased revenues for racing. – Richard FitzGerald, Chief Executive of Racecourse Media Group