Horse Racing Ireland board to meet to discuss media rights offers

Satellite and streaming rights on table

Since early last month Horse Racing Ireland, which has negotiating rights for the country’s 26 racetracks, has been in exclusive talks with Attheraces, the satellite channel that holds the rights to broadcast all Irish races to cable viewers, along with those from a large number of tracks in Britain and abroad. Photograph: Inpho/Morgan Treacy

Since early last month Horse Racing Ireland, which has negotiating rights for the country’s 26 racetracks, has been in exclusive talks with Attheraces, the satellite channel that holds the rights to broadcast all Irish races to cable viewers, along with those from a large number of tracks in Britain and abroad. Photograph: Inpho/Morgan Treacy

 


The Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) board is set to discuss the latest offers for the sport’s media rights when it meets tomorrow in Galway, where one of the biggest meetings of the year takes place this week.

Since early last month, HRI, which has negotiating rights for the country’s 26 tracks, has been in exclusive talks with Attheraces, the satellite channel that holds the rights to broadcast all Irish races to cable viewers, along with those from a large number of tracks in Britain and abroad.

These rights are on the table, along with those to broadcast to jurisdictions outside Ireland and Britain, and those covering digital streaming to computers and mobile devices, an increasingly important market.

Attheraces is the front runner on the basis that it is in exclusive talks with HRI, but a competing joint bid from Racing UK and Irish broadcaster, Setanta, is still on the table.

Richard Fitzgerald, chief executive of Racecourse Media Group, owner of Racing UK, confirmed recently to The Irish Times that his organisation has been asked to keep its offer open.

Competing offer
It is understood that, once HRI has completed its exclusive discussions with Attheraces, it may revisit the competing offer. However, sources say that despite this, Attheraces remains very much a strong favourite to renew its deal.

That service screens Irish racing alongside action from a number of British tracks and from other jurisdictions, including France, the US and Australia.

The Racing UK-Setanta bid involves a dedicated channel that would be available free to around 500,000 homes on the UPC platform. That package would involve broadcasting, pre- and post-meeting analysis and promotion of the sport generally. While HRI has the negotiating rights, the final decision is made by the Association of Irish Racecourses, who hold the actual rights. Details of the money on the table are confidential, but recent reports suggest that there was little between the two offers.

Recent deal
A recent deal between the racecourse and Satellite Information Systems (SIS) involved a direct €6,000 payment per race to each track, and then €400,000 fee to each of the five grade one courses, the Curragh, Fairyhouse, Galway, Leopardstown and Punchestown, €200,000 to grade two tracks and €100,000 the others. Along with that, there was a direct payment of €4.5 million to HRI.

Insiders view streaming rights as an increasingly important area. Under this, punters pay a bookmaker for a live stream to their computers or mobile devices. The broadcasters provide the service and negotiate terms with the racecourses, while the bookies pay the broadcaster. Racing UK provided 40 million individual streams in 2012, a figure that is expected to grow to about 100 million in coming years.