Racecourse Media Group announces 2019 results 

Media rights payments slightly down on 2018 due to new legislation but still help achieve near-record racecourse executive prize-money contribution.

The 37 racecourses involved in Racecourse Media Group (RMG) last year have earned £106.7 million in payments generated from their media and data rights for 2019.

The payments were marginally down on 2018’s return of £109.7m, a drop attributed to the implementation of new Licensed Betting Office (LBO) legislation. Despite those headwinds, RMG’s payments helped enable the 37 racecourses to make executive prize-money contributions of £60.5m – their second highest total and down just 0.7% on 2018.

2019 payments were derived from:

  • Racecourse Retail Business: service provider to LBOs. Content from 34 RMG Shareholder Racecourses, plus Ascot, Bangor-on-Dee and Chester
  • Racing TV: multi-platform subscription channel, which broadcasts coverage from 61 racecourses in UK and Ireland, including dedicated racecourse feeds, and numbers c. 60,000 subscribers and 10,000 pubs and clubs
  • Digital: bet-to-view streams via bookmakers’ digital platforms
  • Racing TV International: international TV betting and pictures service which shows content from 61 racecourses
  • International: non-betting TV sales and distribution overseas
  • Terrestrial TV: ITV television agreement, extended this month for a further three years until 2023, following initial four-year term
  • Racecourse Data Company: licensing of Pre-Race Data, such as racecard information

Roger Lewis, the Chairman of RMG, said: “The 2019 results, while slightly down on 2018, still represent the second highest payments in RMG’s history and, given the new FOBT legislation, which contributed to 1,225 betting shops closing last year, it is an encouraging performance.

“At the start of 2019 we welcomed Ireland’s 26 racecourses to the family, alongside our 34 British racecourse shareholders, and we successfully re-branded the channel to Racing TV, reflecting its new breadth of content. RMG ended 2019 with a record 60,600 subscribers to the channel, up from 50,000 at the end of 2018, and we broadcast into 10,000 pubs and clubs, the most ever. I would like to thank our strong base of loyal Racing TV subscribers for their continued support of the channel.

“A record 145 million streams were served to racing fans in 2019, up from 96 million in 2018, making RMG one of the world’s largest racing media platforms.

“There is no doubt that our offering is far stronger following the addition of such premium and varied content from Ireland, and this has been a significant driver in those increases. We thank Horse Racing Ireland, the 26 Irish racecourses and the racing industry as a whole in Ireland for their much-valued support and collaboration with RMG.

“RMG was busy in international markets, successfully launching the international betting channel, Racing TV International, in 2019. It retained each of its customers following the cessation of GBI Racing and was broadcast to 35 countries across the world. Additionally, the team worked with nearly 50 broadcasters around the globe for coverage direct to homes.

“Of course, the RMG performance in 2020 will be significantly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. RMG reacted immediately to the lockdown by introducing cost savings and launching several new initiatives, especially our new Watch & Bet service. With the cessation of all racing during lockdown, RMG supported racecourses in developing a financial model which assisted the resumption of racing. The flexibility and resilience of the RMG business generated immediate revenues for racecourses at a difficult time.

“This month we concluded our negotiations with ITV on a new three-year term, which secures Racing on terrestrial television until the end of 2023. I sincerely thank everyone involved in these discussions for their patience and perseverance. ITV has done a great job for racing and RMG is proud to be their partner.

“RMG was created by racecourses for racing and our sole purpose is to deliver the best for the sport. I salute all the extraordinary people who make racing happen week-in, week-out, the racecourse teams, the racehorse owners, trainers, breeders, jockeys and stable staff and all of our much valued media, technical, broadcast, commercial and bookmaking partners.

“These results represent the hard work of thousands of people coming together with a dedication of purpose to create the best possible results for racing.

“I sincerely thank all of our racecourses for allowing RMG the privilege of managing their media and data rights to achieve the best possible return for our racecourses which, in turn, benefits all of the sport of racing.

“Finally, I would like to pay tribute to our outstanding CEO Richard FitzGerald, who is stepping down from Racecourse Media Group after 12 years. For a decade, he has significantly grown revenues year-on-year for our racecourse shareholders.

“Richard leaves RMG with our sincerest thanks and best wishes for having delivered an exceptional performance during his tenure.”