Irish racing media rights deal unlikely to be completed until later this year

Current deal is worth up to €40m and has proved key for racecourses during Covid

The present media rights deal is worth around €40 million a year to the Irish racing industry. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

The present media rights deal is worth around €40 million a year to the Irish racing industry. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

 

Any deal on Irish racing’s lucrative media rights doesn’t look like being completed until later this year.

Hopes that an agreement for the sale of rights after 2023 might be concluded before the end of 2021 haven’t come through, although officials insist demand for pictures is “very strong”.

The current deal which runs up to the end of next year is understood to be worth about €40 million a year to Irish racing.

It proved controversial when signed in 2017 as it resulted in coverage of the sport being put behind a paywall on Racing TV.

That direct to home coverage was part of a successful package offered by Sports Information Services (SIS) and the Racecourse Media Group (RMG), which is an umbrella body for the majority of racecourses in Britain.

Prior to that Irish racing was free on the Attheraces channel, now known as Sky Spots Racing.

However, media rights income has proved particularly invaluable to racecourses denied spectators through the turnstiles during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Almost 85 per cent of the sale of media rights goes to Ireland’s 26 racecourses, with the rest going to Horse Racing Ireland.

“In relation to the sale of media rights beyond 2023, we have sought expressions of interest from interested parties,” said Conor O’Neill, chairman of Horse Racing Ireland’s media rights committee

“We appear to have very strong market interest from interested parties and we will be continuing to engage and evaluate with any party interested in acquiring the rights beyond 2023 to ensure we get the possible deal for Irish racing.” The Punchestown boss wouldn’t be drawn on who those parties are.

However, it is understood that RMG, SIS and Sky Sports Racing are in the running again, with the potential for a bidding contest that could increase the value of the rights significantly past €40 million per year.

Both RMG and Sky Sports Racing declined to comment on the matter.

Sources believe any deal is unlikely to be reached until later this year, with one predicting it will be “months” before there is an agreement.

It is understood that face to face meetings on the matter between the various parties and HRI are yet to take place and the prospect of different media rights being negotiated separately hasn’t been ruled out.

Under the current deal, direct to home, international and streaming, as well as pictures for betting offices are under the one umbrella.

However, demand for international and streaming rights has increased significantly in recent years.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.