UK terrestrial TV broadcaster ITV is pleased by its first year of coverage of UK racing, detailing to The Times that it ‘feels vindicated’ by its decision to invest in the sport.
In January 2016, ITV secured the rights to broadcast Racecourse Media Group (RMG) syndicated content, replacing Channel 4 Racing as the lead domestic TV broadcaster for racing.
Setting up ‘ITV Racing’, the broadcaster would air legacy UK racing events; The Cheltenham Festival, The Grand National, The Derby and Royal Ascot on its main channel.
In 2017, ITV would showcase 34 fixtures on its main channels, supported by a further 60 races on ITV4. The broadcaster further developed a weekend ‘preview show’ for race enthusiasts aired on Saturday mornings.
Figures seen by The Times, demonstrate that ITV has been able to increase viewership of the sports legacy events, bar The Grand National, which recorded a 6% decline in 2017 viewership attributed to unforeseen hot weather.
Furthermore, ITV Racing finished 2017 strongly, recording +1 million viewers for its Boxing Day King George meeting at Kempton, during the highly competitive TV Christmas period.
Ed Chamberlain, ITV Racing’s lead presenter stated to The Times, that the positive viewership results ‘demonstrates we are going in the right direction’.
Chamberlain added that ITV would continue to listen to viewer feedback as the broadcaster seeks to develop further engaging racing content in 2018…year 2 of ITV’s four-year contract with RMG.