Channel 4 has secured a new deal for the entire UK horseracing terrestrial rights for 2013-2016 with the Racecourse Media Group (RMG), in association with Jockey Club Racecourses, Ascot Racecourse and other independent racecourses.
Channel 4 will now exclusively broadcast all the crown jewels of the racing calendar as from 2013 - Aintree's three-day John Smith's Grand National meeting, the Investec Derby Festival from Epsom Downs, Royal Ascot and the QIPCO British Champions Day from Ascot come to the Channel. They will sit alongside long-established coverage of Cheltenham Festival, Newbury, York, Chester, Glorious Goodwood racecourses and the Flat Season QIPCO British Champions Series. The four-year partnership will deliver around 90 days a year of terrestrial coverage of horseracing on Channel 4.
As a result, the BBC will no longer showcase British racing on its terrestrial platforms.
Over the next four years, Channel 4 will use its distinctive approach to marketing and promotion to bring the sport to committed racing fans and strengthen its relationship with younger and broader audiences alike. Channel 4 will seek to introduce a new innovations and enhancements to the production values of its racing programming over the course of the new rights period.
Negotiations were led by Racecourse Media Group (RMG) alongside The Jockey Club, Ascot Racecourse and British Champions Series Ltd as rightsholders with Martin Baker, Director of Commercial Affairs, at the helm of the Channel 4 team.
Jay Hunt, Channel 4's Chief Creative Officer, said:
"We are delighted Channel 4 is to become the sole destination for British horseracing after securing such iconic events as Royal Ascot, the John Smith's Grand National and the Investec Derby.
"These will sit alongside our established coverage of The Cheltenham Festival and major flat meetings such as Glorious Goodwood and the Ebor Festival and means we can extend our distinctive approach to all the crown jewels of the sport."
Jamie Aitchison, Channel 4's Sports Editor, said:
"I am delighted Channel 4's 28-year association with racing has now arrived at the point where the industry has demonstrated such confidence in our ability to showcase its complete portfolio.
"This is an opportunity for us to work together to grow the sport, painting the full picture of both the flat and jumps seasons to attract new viewers whilst rewarding those loyal viewers we value so highly. Channel 4 fully understands the heritage and cultural importance of British racing, but also the sport's thirst for a bright future, and we relish the challenge ahead."
Simon Bazalgette, Group Chief Executive of The Jockey Club, which owns 14 racecourses including Aintree, Epsom Downs, Cheltenham and Newmarket, said:
"Channel 4 has been a tremendous partner for British racing to date and this new deal is a huge boost for our sport. I believe the vision and nature of this new arrangement will help to make a step-change in the way we broadcast the sport. Armed with racing's crown jewels, including the John Smith's Grand National Meeting and the Investec Derby Festival, Channel 4 now has the platform to enhance the promotion of our sport all-year-round."
Charles Barnett, Chief Executive of Ascot Racecourse, said:
"This is a tremendous announcement for racing. The sport is in a great place at the moment and the editorial appeal and popularity of both codes has been apparent through what has been a competitive tender process. A one channel scenario will enable us to tell our stories clearly and consistently, and obviously Royal Ascot is fundamental to that. I would personally like to thank BBC Television for everything they have done for racing and we look forward to continuing to work with their other platforms.
The new arrangement will see all 35 races in the QIPCO British Champions Series of premier Flat racing broadcast on Channel 4.
Rod Street, Chief Executive of British Champions Series Ltd, said:
"Since its inception, we've aimed to showcase the very best of British Flat racing within the QIPCO British Champions Series via a single domestic terrestrial broadcaster. We believe this new deal with Channel 4 will make the Series even easier to follow for the racing and wider sports fan. Hugely exciting times lie ahead."
William Derby, Chief Executive of York Racecourse, said:
"As an existing partner with Channel 4 throughout the 28 years of their coverage of the sport, York looks forward to this latest chapter in the broadcasting of famous races from the Dante and Ebor Festivals, as well as major Saturdays on the Knavesmire. The ability to tell the story of the Flat racing season from start to finish, with all the flagship meetings and Saturdays in between and under one umbrella, is a new and exciting opportunity that we look forward to being part of."