Q: What does this mean for Racing UK?
A: Racing UK will become the home of Irish racing, so members can enjoy the full storylines of both jumps and flat seasons in Ireland and Britain on one channel. Members will also benefit from the increasingly popular racing from Chelmsford City. It all means that 92% of Group and Graded races in the UK and Ireland will be on Racing UK from next year.
Q: Will the membership cost remain the same?
A: There are no plans in place to increase the Racing UK membership, which also offers benefits such as our Club Days (free admission for two and the chance to enjoy our VIP Club Day area), regular racecourse discounts and the Club Magazine. In addition, as part of the membership, customers can view on unlimited platforms and on the go via mobile, tablets and laptops and do not need to subscribe to Sky to watch.
Q: How will Racing UK show all this racing on one channel?
A: We do not envisage any problems. As it stands, Racing UK broadcasts around 800 UK fixtures, while At The Races show around 700 UK fixtures, plus all the Irish fixtures. (ATR previously had more UK fixtures, plus the Irish, and accommodated it all on one channel without any detriment to UK or Irish racing).
From next year, there will be fewer 'blank' sessions on Racing UK. Based on the 2018 fixture list, there will be 14 fewer blank days (11 from 25) and 12 further blank afternoons will be filled. The channel will also benefit from 87 additional evening fixtures.
It fits in well with the current Racing UK schedule and much work will be undertaken to ensure minimum congestion and clashes on race fixtures and times. In fact, there will be only 43 afternoons and nine evenings with more than three fixtures (the optimal number of fixtures according to our customer research).
Racing UK members can also benefit from a live dedicated racecourse feed from every Irish and British racecourse, including paddock, ‘going down’ and unsaddling pictures. This exclusive service will be broadcast via Racing UK Xtra, which is available on Racing UK digital platforms and, like all other digital content, can be ‘cast’ (streamed) to TV.
Q: How will it differ from ATR's coverage of Irish racing?
A: The coverage will be in HD, with far less advertising. The minimum subscription point to access Irish racing via At The Races is normally €39 and £20 on the Sky platform, in addition to a further €12.99 and £9.99 for the online ATR player. From next year, viewers can watch all racing from Ireland and Chelmsford City, in addition to all the RMG racecourses, across Racing UK’s multiple platforms for €31 and £24.98.
Aside from Racing UK Xtra being a significant point of difference, all races and reaction will be shown in full on the Racing Replay highlights programme on the same day; another service which is not available on At The Races. And of course, the business models are different with RMG paying all its profits to its 37 racecourse shareholders, whereas ATR has external 'non racing' shareholders.
Q: Won't the shop window for Irish racing be reduced now that it will be on Racing UK, rather than ATR?
A: ATR’s BARB figures show the highest average audience figure for the most recently-published week to be 51,000 viewers with an average weekly viewing time of one minute per person. More than 50,000 fully-engaged members and 6,000 pubs and clubs take the Racing UK service, while RTE has just signed a three-year deal to cover the key meetings on terrestrial TV in Ireland.
In addition, RMG, Racing UK's parent company, will showcase the premium Irish content, alongside RMG's, to international broadcasters, which will help raise the global profile of Irish horseracing. We will also work very closely with the Irish racecourses in promoting their racedays via our broadcast, digital and marketing channels.
Q: Will you still be able to preview and review the racing in-depth?
A: Racing UK will ensure the premium content on both sides of the Irish Sea is showcased via on-site presentations, detailed previews, insightful analysis and reviews, plus extended broadcast hours, in addition to every race been shown in Racing Replay. We will also regularly go behind the scenes of Irish racing heartlands via our popular This Racing Life programme.
Q: Who will Racing UK’s Irish experts be?
A: We already work closely with Ruby Walsh and Donn McClean and we will no doubt look to continue with their services, as well as adding the best Irish talent available. Further details will be revealed later this year.
Q: Does this mean Racing UK will adopt a new name?
A: Racing UK will re-brand to reflect the importance of Irish racing to the channel. Further details will be revealed later this year.
MORE ON THIS STORY IN THE IRISH FIELD NEXT WEEKEND