IRISH racecourses are on the brink of securing a new media rights deal from SIS. The deal, which will run from 2019 to 2023, is expected to be approved on Monday by the board of Horse Racing Ireland and on Wednesday by the Association of Irish Racecourses.
Racecourses currently receive approximately €5,000 per race in media payments, though the top tracks are on more favourable terms. The proposed new deal should see racecourses receive an extra 10% but currency fluctuations and a clause relating to the possible closure of betting offices in the future could leave Irish tracks on similar terms to those currently enjoyed. However, the opportunity to nail down a deal which will guarantee substantial income until 2023 is thought too good to refuse.
A Grade 1 racecourse manager told The Irish Field yesterday he reckoned the new deal could be worth an extra €100,000 per annum to his track. “Knowing we have certain future income gives us confidence to put up matching funds and apply for capital development grants. It’s very welcome news and I would be disappointed if any racecourse rejected the deal.”
With smaller racecourses still doing less well from the deal than the top venues, some dissenting voices are likely to be heard at Wednesday’s meeting. Another bone of contention is the right held by HRI’s Media Rights Committee to negotiate and sign deals without full racecourse approval.
The new deal negotiated by HRI, AIR and SIS is essentially a five-year extension (up to the end of 2023) to their current contract for the distribution of live pictures and data of Irish racing to licensed betting offices across Britain, Ireland and internationally.
Additionally, SIS has secured the sole and exclusive rights from 2017 to stream Irish racing to online operators worldwide and to distribute direct-to-home pictures.
John Moloney, chairman of AIR, said: “As chairman of the AIR and of HRI’s Media Rights Committee, I am delighted at the agreement which has been reached with SIS for the sale of Irish racing’s media rights.
“The interest in these rights reflects the high regard in which our product is held internationally. The certainty of funding provided by this long-term media rights deal will underpin racecourse finances for the next seven years and will enable the continuing widespread development of facilities for racegoers, racehorse owners and all those working in the industry.”
Brian Kavanagh, chief executive of HRI, stated: “This agreement with SIS is a really positive development for Irish racing and one on which HRI has been working for several months.
HRI is committed to working together with SIS in relation to issues such as fixture scheduling and providing a competitive racing programme, and we look forward to the continuation of our mutually beneficial relationship with the betting industry, with the joint objective of growing interest in and turnover on Irish racing.
AT THE RACES review
At The Races is not guaranteed to be the provider of live Irish racing pictures to homes after its current contract expires at the end of 2017. SIS intends to immediately seek proposals for the provision of direct-to-home coverage after 2017.
Potential rivals to ATR could be Setanta, Racing UK and IRIS, the joint venture between O’Doherty’s Audio Video Production Ltd and the Arnolds’ TVM which provides close-circuit pictures at Irish tracks. The selection process will be run with the involvement of HRI and AIR.
Gary Smith said: “SIS enjoys a close relationship with ATR and would be happy to see Irish racing stay on ATR’s channel.”
Brian Kavanagh said: “HRI and AIR have been very happy with At The Races and are pleased that SIS has committed to fully explore options with ATR for the future. We look forward to reviewing the options with SIS.”
Matthew Imi, chief executive of At The Races, commented: “ATR has a long standing and important relationship with HRI/AIR and SIS in relation to developing Irish media rights and we look forward to working together to ensure that we all continue to maximise both exposure for the sport and the value of the rights themselves.”