Sky Sports-owned At the Races has struck a deal to extend its partnership with Ascot Racecourse, covering non-terrestrial television in the UK and Ireland, until 2024.
This will see Sky Sports Racing broadcast live coverage of all of Ascot’s 25 annual fixtures, while At the Races will continue to manage licensing and distribution of content for live streaming to the betting industry, under a separate agreement.
This strengthens Sky Sports Racing’s global rights portfolio, which includes events such as the US Breeders’ Cup and Kentucky Derby, France’s Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, and Australia’s Melbourne Cup Carnival.
The track’s flagship event, Royal Ascot, was held behind closed doors due to the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, though Sky Sports Racing coverage attracted a 2.2m UK viewers in June.
The extension has been agreed after Sky Sports Racing’s existing rights agreement with Ascot was due to expire at the end of 2020.
At the Races chief executive Matthew Imi said the Sky Sports Racing channel, since it was rebranded in January last year, had been “a real success” in the past 18 months, highlighting the Ascot partnership as an important factor.
He noted that 3.3m UK viewers tuned into the channel between April and June, and over 1.9m n average for each month in 2020 so far.
“We have helped Ascot grow some of its key media rights revenues in a short time and we will continue to use our pay TV and digital platform as well as the support of Sky Sports and Sky Sports News to drive profile and exposure for all Ascot events.”
Ascot chief commercial officer Juliet Slot hailed the course's “excellent partnership” with the Sky Sports Racing team.
“The growth in their audiences across our time as our Pay TV partner has supported our desire to bring Ascot and all our annual racing to a broader, wider consumer base alongside our Terrestrial partner ITV; reaching new audiences is an important part of our brand strategy,” she said.
“Alongside the excellent racing broadcast we benefit from the strong digital audiences with Attheraces.com and the broader promotional support from the Sky Sports portfolio. It is a huge pleasure to be announcing this extension to the end of 2023 prior to my departure from Ascot.”
Sky Sports managing director Rob Webster said he was delighted to have renewed the partnership, nothing that the broadcaster has supported horse racing for over two decades.
“Sky Sports Racing continues to provide a platform for the best of international horse racing and meetings from Ascot Racecourse are a key part of our offering to our customers,” Webster explained.