RACING TV brought out the big guns at Fairyhouse last weekend as it began its promotional efforts to convince Irish racing fans and industry players to sign up to the new channel.
After unveiling its Irish presenting team, chief executive Richard Fitzgerald said he believes Racing TV can become the equine equivalent of Netflix by offering subscribers a much more complete experience than that provided by either of the existing racing channels.
“If you are a keen customer of racing you will want to watch Racing TV,” he said.
Since securing the ‘direct-to-home’ rights to show Irish racing earlier this year, Racing TV has been working with the British Horseracing Authority and Horse Racing Ireland to minimise fixture clashes between the 61 tracks the new channel will cover.
“It has worked out surprisingly well,” Fitzgerald said. “We estimate there will be 12 or 13 ‘challenging’ days but at the moment we should be covering all Irish racing on the main channel. That is the theory, but there will be issues when there are stewards’ inquiries and horses spread a plate, and so on.”
The major new development is that every racecourse under Racing TV’s wing will effectively have its own channel, though viewers will need to use their computer or tablet to access that option.
However, viewers (with decent broadband) already familiar with streaming movies via the Netflix app and casting the picture to their television should have no problem calling up the close circuit pictures from Limerick or Laytown.
With so much British and Irish racing to fit in (61 tracks in total) Racing TV will start earlier and finish later each day than is currently the case with Racing UK. A new Friday Club evening show will include racing from Dundalk and will be free to view. The broadcaster promises to send an on-track presenter to Dundalk every Friday evening.
The subscription cost is the sticking point for most Irish customers. The full price of €31 per month seems a lot if you take the view that At The Races was ‘free’, as long as you were already paying for a basic television channel bundle (usually around €35 per month).
Racing TV argues that you don’t need to sign up to any of those packages from Sky, Virgin, Vodafone or wait for Eir to add Racing TV to its offering. You can buy Racing TV directly through the app on your tablet or computer and cast the picture to your television. This is certainly an increasingly popular viewing method with the younger generation.
There will be plenty of discount deals and free trials available in the coming weeks.
“Think of it as a Netflix approach,” Fitzgerald said. “On your iPad you could be watching four racecourses at once. Half of our existing customers already consume Racing UK outside of the Sky platform.”
Pubs will be able to sign up through Sky for a premium package which has both Racing TV and Sky Sports Racing, or they can buy either one individually. According to Fitzgerald there will be no extra cost for pubs but much better value now as Racing TV has a lot more content.
Irish racecourses will also be given the opportunity to show race replays on their own websites within minutes, something which “other broadcasters” would not be keen to do, says Fitzgerald.
“Because we are owned by racecourses we perhaps understand the racecourse business better than others.”
He also said that Racing TV will encourage national broadcaster RTÉ (and presumably Virgin Media One) to show more Irish racing on their terrestrial channels.