Racecourse Media Group (RMG), the media rights organization that produces and distributes 35 UK racecourses, has announced a three-year extension to its deal with Irish broadcaster Virgin Media Television.
The agreement, which runs from 2024 to 2026, will see Virgin Media continue to show 50 days of racing live each year, including major events such as the Cheltenham Festival, Grand National, Derby Festival, Goodwood, Ebor, and British Champions Day.
The majority of the meets will be shown on the main Virgin Media One channel, and the courses covered by the agreement include Cheltenham, Aintree, Epsom Downs, York, Goodwood, Haydock Park, Kempton Park, NewMarket, Sandown Park and others.
RMG chief executive Martin Stevenson said: “Our British racecourses enjoy an excellent shop window in Ireland thanks to this partnership with Virgin Media Television.
“We are delighted British racing will continue to enjoy live coverage for a further three years, as well as benefit from the additional programming and news highlights, plus valuable cross-promotion, which Virgin Media Television provides.”
Under its previous moniker of TV3, Virgin Media signed an original four-year deal with RMG in late 2016. RTE, the Irish public-service broadcaster, had previously held rights to the major UK horse races.
The Irish broadcaster then agreed a three-year extension and expansion of its rights package from 2020 to 2023.
Domestic free-to-air rights are held in the UK by commercial broadcaster ITV under a deal running through 2026.
Mick McCaffrey, head of sport at Virgin Media Television, said: “This agreement ensures that the pinnacle of British horseracing, such as the iconic Cheltenham and Aintree festivals, will continue to be broadcast free to air to Irish viewers.
“Irish jockeys, trainers, owners and breeders continue to fly the flag and achieve greater success year in and year out and we look forward to broadcasting all the action live on Virgin Media Television and the Virgin Media Player.”
The extension comes two months after betting firm Tabcorp partnered with RMG to distribute RMG content across Australia and New Zealand through its suite of Sky Racing channels in the region.
Last May, RMG distributed £117.6 million ($147 million) of media and data rights payments from 2022 among its members – a small increase from the £110 million shelled out in 2021.
The payments stem from a range of sectors – betting outlets, digital streams from bookmakers, pay-TV channels, international betting, terrestrial TV, and data rights.