The current agreement between ITV and Ascot Racecourse has been brought into the spotlight after it has been reported that the broadcaster has asked Ascot to come to a decision over whether it will agree to a three-year partnership extension.
Reported by the Racing Post, the partnership between the two has been highlighted by bookmakers, punters and sponsors, who have emphasised that a failure to extend the agreement may lead to the racing sector to suffer.
The broadcaster has reportedly issued a Saturday deadline for the racecourse, although it is expected that the deadline may stretch into September.
Should the duo fail to extend the partnership, ITV has suggested that it would continue its involvement with UK horseracing, which Betfair – a principal sponsor of Ascot – emphasised that the TV coverage would be of significant importance to the future of its two key sponsorships.
Betfair head of media relations Barry Orr commented: “When you come to evaluate a sponsorship a major consideration is the exposure you receive through ITV, whose coverage gets you into so many more homes. It’s very significant indeed. The ideal scenario is to have races both on terrestrial television and a dedicated channel. That’s what we hope to see in the future.
“Whether or not our races are being televised terrestrially would have a very significant impact on the attractiveness of any sponsorships going forward. It’s a no-brainer to say if races in future were not on ITV they would be increasingly less attractive from a sponsorship perspective.”
Coral has also established a partnership with the racecourse, and head of PR David Stevens added: “As there is direct correlation between terrestrial television coverage of racing and increased betting turnover on the sport, the current extensive ITV contract that covers all the year’s flagship meetings is something we absolutely welcome, with the increased year-on-year audience figures proof of the sport’s continued relevance and popularity.
“Whilst we rightly couldn’t comment on specific ongoing commercial negotiations between Ascot and ITV, Royal Ascot is the biggest week of the Flat season in betting terms, and along with the other top-class fixtures under both codes that the course stages, forms a key part of the terrestrial programme. We would hope that position can be maintained going forward.”