The landscape of horse racing broadcasting is set to change in 2019 with the introduction of Sky Sports Racing, a new dedicated channel that will replace At The Races.
That sets up a straight bunfight with Racing UK, and the Sky-backed channel has taken an early advantage by landing exclusive rights to broadcast meetings from Ascot.
Course officials have followed the path of Chester and Bangor, who have also decided to pen deals with Sky Sports Racing. That means the channel will provide coverage of the St Leger, the Welsh Grand National and the Boodles Festival from 2019, as well as overseas races including the Breeders’ Cup, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and the US Triple Crown.
It is all part of the Sky Group’s plans to overhaul their input next year in the face of increasing competition from rival broadcasters and the threat of illegal streaming.
Ascot’s chief commercial officer, Juliet Slot, said: “We’re really pleased to be partnering with Sky Sports Racing.
“We’ve chosen them because of the significant investment and commitment to the sport that they have demonstrated, the brand alignment and cross-promotional opportunities that come with the major sports that Sky covers, and the fact that Sky Sports Racing is available in more than 14 million homes.”
Royal Ascot had previously been a key meeting for Racing UK, who have also lost the streaming rights for betting purposes, and that is a huge blow for the broadcaster.
Sky Sports’ Barney Francis said: “Horseracing is a hugely important sport for us, one that we’ve been supporting for more than 20 years.
“In Sky Sports Racing, we are creating a new dedicated home for racing fans and an 11th Sky Sports channel. We’re thrilled to be able to add Ascot to what is already a stellar line-up.”
Punters Prepare for New Dawn
Sky Sports Racing will launch on January 1, 2019, and will replace At The Races as the broadcaster’s key channel for UK and international racing.
The good news is that it will be available to all UK and Ireland based customers at no extra cost, with full HD coverage produced in the firm’s West London studios.
In total there will be 650 UK fixtures broadcast, with the firm announcing back in May that Chester and Bangor were just the first of many tracks expected to come on board.
In addition, some overseas meetings will be covered, as well as discussion programmes and editorial content from some of the sport’s most recognisable faces.
Ascot’s chief executive, Guy Henderson, can’t wait to get started. “Our strategy is to develop collaborations to deliver the best racing, facilities and customer service possible.
“Today we announce two exciting new ventures with At The Races across pay TV and streaming for betting in the UK.
“During Royal Ascot we announced Ascot World Pool in partnership with Totepool and the Hong Kong Jockey Club, which sees our media rights arrangements there increased to all five days of the 2019 royal meeting.”