Sky UK will move to expand its presence within racing, launching a dedicated ‘Sky Sports Racing’ channel in early 2019.
In March 2017, Sky UK moved to acquire a controlling 51% stake in UK racing broadcaster At The Races (ATR). At the time, UK news sources reported that Sky would move to create a dedicated racing channel for its 14 million digital subscribers.
In recent months, the distribution of racing media rights for the UK and Ireland has been shaken up by the expanded strategic partnership formed between Racecourse Media Group (RMG) and Sports Information Services (SIS).
Entering 2018, the RMG and SIS partnership secured an exclusive 5-year contract (starting 1 April) to broadcast Irish racing and distribute international rights for UK racing.
The development of a ‘Sky Sports Racing’ channel, is seen as a move to empower ATR’s position within racing. Industry insiders firmly believe that Sky will approach racecourse owners, persuading them to switch media distribution service from RMG to ATR.
Furthermore, in the coming year, Sky will likely move to bolster the racing portfolio of ATR which currently services 15 Arena Racing Company syndicated racetracks.
Both Ascot and Chester racecourses have been mooted as potential early wins for Sky Sports Racing, as their media contracts with RMG expire in February 2019.