Sunday 18th of October 2020

ITV to replace Channel 4 as broadcaster of horse racing

itv logo hr_0

ITV is set to become the new broadcaster for horse racing next year after outbidding Channel 4 following months of negotiation, writes Kitty Trice.

More than 30 years of Channel 4 coverage will end on December 31 2016 and, in a four year contract worth around £30 million, ITV will cover race meetings such as the Cheltenham Festival, Grand National and Royal Ascot.

Ever since Channel 4 took over broadcasting rights from the BBC in early 2013, viewings have dropped significantly – British Champions Day was down from 1.1 million in 2012 to only 367,000 last October. Channel 4 currently covers 90 days racing a year.

Racing’s rights holders – including Jockey Club Racecourses and Racecourse Media Group – hope to improve the declining viewing numbers by transferring rights to ITV, despite concerns over how the channel will televise the racing.

ITV will split coverage between its main channel and ITV 4 – with the former showing a minimum of 34 days racing including the biggest National Hunt and flat race meets and the latter showing 60 days and also providing studio based commentary. A Morning Line type show has also been confirmed by ITV for Saturday mornings.


(c) Sandown Park

(c) Sandown Park

The team is expected to be announced when the new deal is officially revealed. Those thought to be in the running for fronting the ITV team include At The Races’ Matt Chapman, Mark Pougatch and John Inverdale.

Channel 4’s team is currently headed by Nick Luck and also includes Graham Cunningham, Clare Balding, Rishi Persad and 20-time Champion Jockey, the-soon-to-be-knighted AP McCoy.

Kitty Trice

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