Third LBO racing channel set to shake-up UK betting shops

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Betting shop operators in the UK are set to see another shake-up in how they present horseracing after the announcement that a third horseracing channel for LBOs is to be launched.

The Racing Partnership (TRP) – a joint venture between Arena Racing (ARC) and seven independent racecourses comprising Fakenham, Ffos Las, Hexham, Newton Abbot, Plumpton, Ripon and Towcester – announced its intentions to launch a new TV Channel to provide its content to high street betting shops.

The move echoes that made by the Jockey Club and partner courses with the launch of Turf TV in 2008, which helped increase revenues to the sport of horseracing via media rights, but effectively doubled the cost for betting shop operators while fracturing what was once a unified horseracing broadcasting service under the remit of SIS.

The new channel now sees a third TV service for independent bookmakers to somehow integrate into their betting shops and leaves a question mark over what content rights TurfTVnow holds for British racing after SIS’s deal with the Racecourse Media Group. It is a particular problem for small betting shop operators as the larger national chains have long been producing their own in-shop TV channels and can manage the racing content accordingly.

TRP claims this new channel will ensure that all independent LBOs are able to continue providing their betting shop customers with horseracing pictures and commentary – and the associated betting data – from ARC and the seven independent racecourses, which makes up more than 40% of UK horseracing fixtures.

As well as covering around 650 fixtures from the UK racecourses each year, the TV channel will cover all South African racing. This equates to around 1,100 fixtures per annum covering a wide range of turf and all-weather flat and jump racing, commencing from mid-morning throughout the afternoon and into the evening all year round.

Paul Witten, commercial director at SIS, commented: “ARC has clearly signalled its intentions to go to the market independently, especially since the acquisition of South African rights to add to their own. SIS has continued dialogue throughout and made commercially attractive proposals to ARC for SIS to continue to take this content to independent bookmakers alongside the future FACTS service, however ARC believe they will achieve a better position by going to the market themselves.

“SIS continues to build on its current portfolio to ensure our service for independent bookmakers is better than ever. The acquisition of RMG rights and the extended agreement for Irish horseracing, our continued BAGS greyhound content along with a new range of valuable horse racing content will continue to see the FACTS service as the premium channel for independent bookmakers.

“SIS continues to drive efficiencies through its operations to ensure the FACTS service delivers value for money for the whole market, and has committed to reinforcing its position as a low margin, highly efficient operator to put valuable content on screen and deliver a comprehensive service for independent bookmakers.”

The TRP channel will be live from Thursday 1 September 2016 with racing from South Africa. Racing from the six Arena courses including Doncaster, Southwell, Lingfield Park and Wolverhampton will be available on TRP from 1 January 2017 with all other ARC and independent racecourses being added to the schedule over the following year.

While it is The Racing Partnership’s intention to supply pictures directly to operators with their own channels, the group says the establishment of the new TV channel will allow bookmakers, including independent LBOs, to purchase racing content in the most ‘efficient manner possible’. It claims this is to the benefit of all parties including betting shop customers who continue to find horseracing an attractive and exciting betting product.

Beyond the LBO environment all racing will continue to be aired via TRP’s media partner At The Races on Sky Channel 415 and Virgin Media Channel 535.

In order to deliver the new TV channel The Racing Partnership has made significant investment in equipment and personnel. The launch of TRP will be overseen by ARC’s Director of Media Technology and Production Mark Kingston, formerly of SIS, with support from Jason Barker as Head of Production.

ARC Chief Executive Martin Cruddace said: “We have worked incredibly hard to produce a compelling and valuable product for the retail betting sector. This is an exciting development and offers the LBO market a new and much more efficient way to purchase racing pictures for their customers. Under the new structure all betting operators will be able to work directly with TRP which will help create a more effective market structure which will benefit all parties. We look forward to working with the retail sector to maximise the value of the product for their businesses.

“We believe the establishment of The Racing Partnership with allow us all to maximise economies of scale and provide us all with the ability to share resources and best practice across all the partners.”

Newton Abbot Racecourse Managing Director, Pat Masterson, also on the Board of The Racing Partnership, said: “We are delighted to be working with ARC to form The Racing Partnership. This provides the independent racecourses with new opportunities to collaborate and support each other in order to ensure we can safeguard and grow and develop our racecourses.”

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