The thoroughbred racing media rights saga has come to a head, with Tabcorp announcing it will cease broadcasting from June 15.
Racing Victoria announced last week that Seven West Media is the preferred option for the new broadcast deal for Thoroughbred Racing.
The Board of Racing Victoria released a statement outlining their decision last weekend.
“The Board of Racing Victoria (RV) has resolved that its preferred outcome for the broadcast of Victorian thoroughbred racing is to partner with Seven West Media in a combined free-to-air and digital broadcast deal,” RV said.
“RV has advised each of the Melbourne Racing Club (MRC), the Victoria Racing Club (VRC), the Moonee Valley Racing Club (MVRC) and Country Racing Victoria (CRV) of this resolution and has asked each to separately and independently consider its position on its media rights as soon as possible.”
Tabcorp, which owns Sky Racing Channel, has broadcast Victorian Thoroughbred Racing for decades. They responded to the statement by confirming that it will cease broadcasting Victorian thoroughbred racing on Sky Racing on Monday June 15, unless a new deal can be agreed upon between Tabcorp and Racing Victoria.
What this will mean is that Thoroughbred racing will not be broadcast for six weeks, as Seven West Media is not due to begin broadcasting until August.
It is the first time in decades that no Victorian Racing will be shown or pay TV or free-to-air.
Racing Victoria has not commented on Tabcorp’s decision, which will potentially cripple wagering on Victorian racing.
Melbourne Cup winning trainer Lee Freedman has slammed the proposed deal.
“Does the racing industry know how much the impending decision to go with Channel Seven for live Victorian coverage is going to cost? If the figures being bandied around about the cost to the industry of choosing Seven over Sky Channel are true, industry participants would faint,” Freedman said.
“Racing is sick of being sold expensive dreams. Racing isn’t going to reverse the trend of decline by spending fortunes on free-to-air.”
“I’d like pictures that aren’t going to cost us all a fortune…yet again.”
Freedman also said that racing needed to realise that proven revenue streams that are already in place should remain the priority.
While the deal is not supported by everyone, what it does mean is that corporate bookies will be clambering to get a slice of the pie when Seven begin their broadcasting of Victorian racing.
Channel Seven will broadcast racing live every day of the year apart from Good Friday and Christmas Day, showing the full 520 race meetings over the five-year deal.
Channel Seven is expected to start locking in major betting partners once they are officially announced as the broadcast partner, which will be an enormous opportunity for bookies.
Whether Tabcorp continues its association with Racing Victoria remains to be seen, however, betting companies will be licking their lips at the mouth-watering prospect of broadening their reach.
Some betting companies have already backed the new deal.
Betfair’s Communications Manager Daniel Bevan said that it is a monumental decision from racing Victoria.
“It’s clearly the right thing to do. The strongest drivers of wagering are access to live vision and form.
“Getting vision on to free to air television will greatly expand the racing audience and increase returns from wagering.”