The GO RACING consortium, formed by Channel 4, BSkyB and Arena Leisure, has tabled an exclusive rights offer to Britain’s 59 racecourses, which is expected to be worth in excess of £750 million to the racing industry over 10 years.

Go Racing’s rights proposal, presented to racecourse executives in London today, guarantees £400 million to the sport over 10 years from UK TV licence fees, international development of rights, share of betting revenues and marketing spend, with a guaranteed payment of £50 million in year one.

However, on the strength of its business plan, Go Racing has told the racing industry that its share of revenue generated through the best use of rights across TV and the internet is expected to value the offer above £750 million over 10 years.

Go Racing’s rights offer is the only proposal that can guarantee the continued terrestrial coverage of racing on both Channel 4 and the BBC. While the BBC wishes to buy rights from the consortium if its offer is successful, Channel 4 will make no assurances of continued racing coverage outside this proposal.

Television coverage, particularly the mass audiences brought to the sport by the terrestrial stations, is widely agreed to be crucial to the future health of racing, with British Horseracing Board research showing that betting turnover on an average race day increases by 237% when it is televised. Go Racing is promising 4,000 hours of live racing coverage each year, more than any other sport receives in the UK.

In return for exclusive global rights across all media platforms, the Go Racing partners are promising:

  • A dedicated Go Racing channel, produced by Channel 4 Racing and running nine hours a day, seven days a week with four to six races per hour, including international coverage.
  • The Go Racing channel will be available to around 5 million UK pay-TV homes from day one – via Sky Digital and digital terrestrial TV.
  • An interactive TV service – including on screen betting – to accompany television coverage via BSkyB’s digital handsets and set top box technology.
  • A comprehensive website, allowing international betting on UK racing and offering live and archive racing, an extensive form database, tips and much more.
  • Improved terrestrial coverage with Channel 4 and the BBC co-ordinating the scheduling of racing on TV, more courses on terrestrial TV than before and a new daily lunchtime racing programme on Channel 4 five days a week.
  • Improved coverage on Sky Sports with 60 Winning Post programmes per year and an improved daily Racing News programme.
  • Go Racing is the only bidder for racing rights able to offer an instant solution to the sport that will allow exploitation of rights across all platforms – terrestrial TV, multi-channel TV and the internet – from the start of a new deal.

    BSkyB is already operating the interactive technology necessary to allow armchair fans to place bets from home and is guaranteeing distribution of the proposed Go Racing channel to the majority of UK digital homes.

    Trevor East, Deputy Managing Director of Sky Sports, said: ‘Sky is the only company in Britain today producing interactive enhancements to television programming across the UK. Others may talk about it, but we are actually delivering. We are in a position now to deliver interactive betting from your armchair and open up a brand new significant revenue stream for the racing industry.’

    Arena Online has developed an international betting solution to maximise revenue for UK racing over the last two years and is in the final testing phase with its internet betting site, which is ready to go live at the end of 2000.

    Ian Hogg, Managing Director of Arena Online, added: ‘The international market offers a massive opportunity for UK racing. Go Racing intends to export live pictures around the world in conjunction with access to UK betting pools which will, for the first time, fully exploit the potential of British racing around the world. We are going to make it easier to bet on British racing both at home and abroad by using the interactive technology developed by both Sky and Arena.’

    Summing up Go Racing’s proposal, David Brook, Channel 4’s Director of Strategy and Development, said: ‘Channel 4, BSkyB and Arena can all demonstrate a long-term commitment to British horseracing that our rivals cannot begin to match and many months of hard work from all three companies are behind this proposal.

    ‘Collectively, we are committed to this proposal and this proposal alone as the best solution for British racing. We believe the combination of Channel 4’s unrivalled racing coverage, the proven ability of Sky and ourselves to market this and other sports, the distribution available through Sky Digital and the interactive technology pioneered by Sky and Arena, quite simply make this bid unbeatable.’

    Go Racing’s offer is open for acceptance until 10 November 2000 and is subject to approval from enough courses to make up a minimum of 70% of the total UK off course betting revenue.

    More information:

    Matt Baker, Channel 4 –
    0207 306 8666/ 0777 584 5480

    Hannah Walker, Channel 4 –
    01534 864 662/ 07971 598 287

    Chris Haynes, BSkyB –
    0207 705 3905/ 0585 891 967

    David Bick, Holborn PR (Arena Leisure) –
    0207 929 5599