Channel 4 racing presenter Clare Balding with trainer Nicky Henderson
Television coverage of horse racing is set tor a major change next year with ITV set to replace Channel 4 as the terrestrial broadcaster.
ITV is understood to have won rights to cover fixtures including the Cheltenham Festival, Grand National, the Derby and Royal Ascot, from January 2017.
Reports say it agreed a £30m four-year deal, with racing’s biggest fixtures on ITV 1 and others on ITV 4.
In a statement, Channel 4 said: “We wish racing all the best from 2017.”
Channel 4, which has broadcast racing for more than 30 years, will show 90 days of racing in 2016, concluding with the Challow Hurdle meeting at Newbury on 31 December.
Its portfolio was expanded to include racing’s ‘crown jewels’ of the National at Aintree, Epsom’s Derby and Ascot when taking those meetings from the BBC in the last rights deal in 2012.
ITV will broadcast the Grand National for the first time in April 2017, although the broadcaster has an historical link with racing, going back to the days of the ‘ITV Seven’ bet, a key component of the Saturday afternoon ‘World of Sport’ programme in the 1980s.
Its coverage moved to Channel 4 in 1985, together with well-known presenters such as Derek Thompson and John McCririck, although they were dropped when the channel won the exclusive terrestrial rights in 2012.
John McCririck (pictured with wife Jenny) lost a legal case, claiming ageism, against Channel 4 after being released in 2012
It sought to innovate, won awards for its coverage and brought in guests including jockeys Frankie Dettori and AP McCoy, and fashion expert Gok Wan, but ratings for some meetings, particularly Epsom and Ascot, have dropped significantly, and Channel 4 last month agreed a deal to show Formula One after the BBC cut short its deal.
A Channel 4 statement said: “2016 will be an unprecedented year for premium live sport on Channel 4 as it becomes the new terrestrial home of Formula One alongside the Rio 2016 Paralympics and horse racing.
“We are proud of the award-winning coverage we have given to horse racing over the last three decades – and the 90 days of live terrestrial television exposure per year we have offered the sport, backed by significant editorial investment, marketing and programming across our schedules.”
The sport currently has two dedicated channels in Racing UK and At The Races, while all …read more
Source:: BBC Entertainment