British racing will remain on ITV until 2023 after the broadcaster signed a new agreement with Racecourse Media Group, Ascot Racecourse and Arena Racing Company.
The new deal will bring 94 days of racing to its viewers across ITV’s main channel, ITV4 and the ITV Hub. Additionally, ITV Racing’s magazine preview programme, the Opening Show, will continue each Saturday and on every day at the Cheltenham Festival, the Grand National and Royal Ascot.
Niall Sloane, ITV Director of Sport, stated: “ITV is delighted to announce the continuation of free to air coverage of a sport that is loved and followed by so many. To do so following a successful resumption of the sport with wide audiences returning to our coverage after such a long lay-off is particularly welcome and we look forward to bringing the very best this wonderful sport has to offer to viewers over the next few years.”
Richard FitzGerald, Chief Executive of Racecourse Media Group (RMG), added: “ITV has been a terrific partner for British horseracing over the last three years and ITV has earned the right to renew the contract for a further three years. Its award-winning productions are reflected with increased audiences, in contrast to wider TV audience trends, and they have succeeded in attracting a new, younger audience, without alienating in any way the existing fanbase.
“We look forward to working closely with the broadcaster in ensuring racing remains in this fantastic shop window provided by ITV and all its platforms. I’d also like to thank all the sport’s participants, particularly the jockeys, for the positive roles they have played in engaging with the ITV coverage.”
The revised agreement is reportedly valued between £8m – £9m, an increase on ITV’s current fee of £7.5m.
In 2020, ratings for ITV’s coverage are 22% higher than in 2019 and 45% higher than in 2016 when the rights were held by Channel 4. Viewing for ITV4’s coverage is also 2% higher than for the equivalent events shown on C4 in 2016.
The agreement was expected to be completed as early as New Year’s Day in 2019. But over the past year and a half, there have been multiple hurdles getting in the way of an extension.
This includes Ascot’s decision to partner with Sky at the beginning of 2019, ITV’s disagreement over a reduction in broadcast fees due to the Grand National’s cancellation, and a streaming rights dispute with Arc.
Juliet Slot, Chief Commercial Officer, Ascot Racecourse, commented: “The extension of our highly successful terrestrial partnership with ITV is great news for Ascot. It is a pleasure to be a part of this award-winning partnership with ITV which has seen continued growth of audiences across all our race meetings. We look forward to the next three years’ working together to bring Ascot’s racing to existing and new audiences across the ITV portfolio of platforms.”
David Leyden Dunbar, ARC Director of Partnerships, concluded: “The whole team at ITV Racing have done a tremendous job of showcasing our sport on terrestrial television since 2017.
“Bringing our biggest meetings and stars to the widest possible audience is of huge importance to the whole industry and we believe that the ITV team are perfectly placed to deliver for the benefit of everyone across racing.”