HRI move prompted by fear over a drop in betting shop revenue
Horse Racing Ireland chief executive Brian Kavanagh has revealed a fear that the value of Irish racing’s betting shops rights would take a significant hit led to the situation that has enabled SIS to control which broadcaster ends up with the direct-to-home (DTH) pictures.
Welcoming the new deal, Kavanagh said the arrangement with RMG "will guarantee vital income streams for each of our 26 racecourses until the end of 2023".
“We're conscious of concerns that have been raised," he conceded, "but confident this arrangement is in the overall best interests of the Irish racing industry. We look forward to working with RMG and SIS to ensure coverage of Irish racing is of the highest possible standard."
One manager of a Grade 1 track described the atmosphere at Tuesday’s Association of Irish Racecourses meeting as one of “resignation” at being presented with what was ultimately a fait accompli.
Tracks that have switched from ATR
Kelso, Perth, Exeter, Ascot, Leicester, Taunton, Stratford
Set to switch next year
Chelmsford, all 26 Irish tracks
ATR's strength at its peak
56 racecourses (30 British, 26 Irish)
ATR's 2019 stable
22 racecourses (all British, no Irish)
However, explaining the background to the development, Kavanagh said: “DTH is just one element of media rights, along with international sales – which was formerly through GBI Racing – online streaming and betting shop revenue.
“SIS hold the rights for Irish racing and Chelmsford. Two years ago SIS and RMG did a deal for betting shop rights that kicks in from April 1 this year.
“At that time Irish betting shop rights were the last up for renewal, which meant Irish racing and racecourses were in a very vulnerable position.
“So we were able to enter an arrangement with SIS by putting our betting shop rights and all the other rights on the table, and that secured certainty around betting shop income.
“More recently SIS extended their partnership with RMG to include their international sales rights, and their streaming arrangements, so, again, you're looking all the time at strength of partnerships.
“At that point SIS looked to talk to RMG about the non-betting shop rights they had, and that's produced this deal. That’s the sequence of it."
He added: "The revenues media rights generate in total, the vast bulk of those come from betting associated rights. DTH rights on their own aren't a significant revenue generator."
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