© Photo Healy RacingITV has agreed a new deal to show British racing until 2023.
The channel has been the exclusive free-to-air broadcaster of the sport since 2017 and after a prolonged period of negotiation, has announced it has secured the rights to show nearly 100 days of racing each year for a further three years from 2021.
The deal includes all the marquee events, such as the Cheltenham Festival, Grand National, Derby, Royal Ascot, Champions Day and the Ebor meeting, on the main ITV channel with coverage also on ITV4 and the ITV Hub.
As part of the deal, the Opening Show, ITV Racing’s magazine preview programme, will continue each Saturday morning and on each day at the Cheltenham Festival, the Grand National meeting and Royal Ascot.
The announcement follows a successful resumption of racing in June after the coronavirus lockdown, with Royal Ascot drawing eight-year high viewing figures each day, while the peak for the Investec Derby was over 2.2 million — the highest for the race since 2012.
ITV also reports 22 per cent higher ratings this year than in 2019, with the 2020 Cheltenham Festival hitting audience highs not seen since records began in 2003.
Niall Sloane, ITV director of sport, said: “ITV is delighted to announce the continuation of free-to-air coverage of a sport that is loved and followed by so many.
“To do so following a successful resumption of the sport with wide audiences returning to our coverage after such a long lay-off is particularly welcome and we look forward to bringing the very best this wonderful sport has to offer to viewers over the next few years.”
Richard FitzGerald, chief executive of Racecourse Media Group, added: “ITV has been a terrific partner for British horseracing over the last three years and ITV has earned the right to renew the contract for a further three years.
“Its award-winning productions are reflected with increased audiences, in contrast to wider TV audience trends, and they have succeeded in attracting a new, younger audience, without alienating in any way the existing fanbase.
“We look forward to working closely with the broadcaster in ensuring racing remains in this fantastic shop window provided by ITV and all its platforms.
“I’d also like to thank all the sport’s participants, particularly the jockeys, for the positive roles they have played in engaging with the ITV coverage.”
News of the deal has also been welcomed by racecourses, with Delia Bushell, group chief executive of the Jockey Club, which counts Aintree, Cheltenham, Epsom and Newmarket under its banner, hailing the move.
She said: “I’m delighted this new agreement has been reached between British racing’s rightsholders and ITV.
“We look forward to continuing to work with the ITV Racing team to develop the opportunities this excellent free-to-air broadcasting provides us, as we seek to grow in popularity and diversity as a sport in the years ahead.”