Independent bookmakers facing third racing channel

Independent bookmakers facing third racing channel

Tuesday, July 5, 2016 Posted by Andy McCarron
Another horseracing channel is being launched for UK betting shops

UK independent bookmakers will have to find space extra space in their betting shops after a consortium of racecourses announced it was launching its own TV racing channel for Licensed Betting Offices (LBOs).

The Racing Partnership (TRP) – a newly formed joint venture between Arena Racing (ARC) and seven independent racecourses comprising Fakenham, Ffos Las, Hexham, Newton Abbot, Plumpton, Ripon and Towcester – surprised the market last week by announcing they were going alone.

Up until now ARC’s races had been broadcast on SIS, the UK’s original LBO TV channel, but the racecourses have decided to retain their media rights and broadcast themselves rather than continue that relationship.

Paul Witten, commercial director at SIS, told “ARC has clearly signalled its intentions to go to the market independently, especially since the acquisition of South African rights to add to their own. SIS has continued dialogue throughout and made commercially attractive proposals to ARC for SIS to continue to take this content to independent bookmakers alongside the future FACTS service, however ARC believe they will achieve a better position by going to the market themselves.”

It is a particular conundrum for independent betting shops as they rely on the TV feeds to be supplied. The UK’s major corporate bookmakers now run their own in-house TV channels, meaning that they can manage the racing content efficiently. Independent bookmakers are reliant on the two main services SIS and Turf TV, which frequently clash with their different content, making it potentially confusing to betting shop customers. The addition of TRP into the mix will only make things more complicated.

Witten said that SIS aims to help out those smaller operators, especially as the firm secured the rights to the Racecourse Media Group (RMG) racecourses last year. He said: “SIS continues to build on its current portfolio to ensure our service for independent bookmakers is better than ever. The acquisition of RMG rights and the extended agreement for Irish horseracing, our continued BAGS greyhound content along with a new range of valuable horse racing content will continue to see the FACTS service as the premium channel for independent bookmakers.

“SIS continues to drive efficiencies through its operations to ensure the FACTS service delivers value for money for the whole market, and has committed to reinforcing its position as a low margin, highly efficient operator to put valuable content on screen and deliver a comprehensive service for independent bookmakers.”

The TRP channel will be live from Thursday 1 September 2016 with racing from South Africa. Racing from the six Arena courses including Doncaster, Southwell, Lingfield Park and Wolverhampton will be available on TRP from 1 January 2017 with all other ARC and independent racecourses being added to the schedule over the following year.

ARC chief executive Martin Cruddace said: “We have worked incredibly hard to produce a compelling and valuable product for the retail betting sector.  This is an exciting development and offers the LBO market a new and much more efficient way to purchase racing pictures for their customers. Under the new structure all betting operators will be able to work directly with TRP which will help create a more effective market structure which will benefit all parties.  We look forward to working with the retail sector to maximise the value of the product for their businesses.

 “We believe the establishment of The Racing Partnership with allow us all to maximise economies of scale and provide us all with the ability to share resources and best practice across all the partners.”

Totally Gaming Says: “The horseracing media rights model has been a complicated issue ever since Turf TV was formed by a breakaway group of racetracks with an eye on extracting more money from bookmakers for the media rights. The result was a higher cost for bookmakers and a fractured service for customers. This latest development with a potential for a third channel to fit into the mix, could well see some bookmakers decide to reduce its horseracing coverage, which would hit the sport in the long run.”

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