Richard FitzGerald has stepped down as CEO of Racecourse Media Group – the media and data rights holding company for the UK and Ireland’s leading racecourses – after nearly 12 years in the position.
During Richard’s tenure, for more than a decade the Group recorded year-on-year increases in licence fees payable to its racecourse shareholders.
Roger Lewis, Chairman of RMG, paid tribute, saying:
“On behalf of the Board of RMG, I thank Richard for his exceptional leadership of the RMG team for almost 12 years.
“During this period RMG has produced great returns for our Racecourses, generating over £800m of licence fees during his tenure of office.
“The recent renewal of the RMG contract with ITV until 2023, the successful launch of our new Watch & Bet Service in June, and ensuring RMG is fully operational following the Covid-19 outbreak and so generating significant revenues for our racecourses, has created the right moment for Richard to announce his decision to step down.
“The achievements of RMG, which have driven its financial performance with Richard as CEO are significant, and include a ground-breaking data licensing and production service, an innovative LBO deal with SIS, the securing of the rights to Irish racing, the rebrand and launch of Racing TV, enhancing its HD service, and the expansion of RMG opportunities across the world.
“Richard leaves RMG with our sincerest thanks and best wishes for having delivered an outstanding performance over a considerable period of time.”
Richard FitzGerald said:
“It has been a fabulous and rewarding 12 years working for RMG. The business has flourished and delivered on the vision of the founding shareholders around a collective approach to commercialising their media and data rights.
“There is never a good time to step down but with resumption of racing, the new Watch & Bet deals, the terrestrial TV renewal and launch in Italy of fixed odds, and a new cycle of renewals starting shortly, it seems the right time to step down.
“It has been a great journey and I have enjoyed working with a strong, capable, committed and stable team to deliver the results we have been able to achieve consistently over the last decade.”
Key developments during Richard’s tenure as CEO, included (more in Notes to Editors):
- ITV deal and renewal (2017-2023) – RMG leads negotiations on exclusive domestic TV rights
- Watch & Bet service (2020) – New streaming service leads to significantly increased turnover
- Irish Rights (2019-2023) – RMG secures Irish rights for DTH, International and streaming
- Racing TV International (2019) – Launch of new tote service for overseas betting operators
- OTT services (2018) – RMG launch dedicated, produced racecourse feeds (RTV Extra)
- Rebranding to Racing TV (2018) – Racing UK is rebranded to reflect international content
- LBO deal with SIS (2018-2023) – Contract brings enhanced terms and greater transparency
- MENA TV (2015-2023) – New sub-licencing model generates increased revenues
- Racecourse Data Company (RDC) (2015) – RDC formed to manage licence of pre-race data
- Meydan (2015-2021) – RMG signs distribution and production contracts with Meydan
- Pubs and Clubs (2013) – RMG appoints Sky Business as agent (now in 10,000 premises)
- HD pictures (2010) – RMG fund OB fleet to enable HD pictures from its racecourses
- Formation of GBI Racing (2009-2018) – Unified racing wagering service launches in 40 countries
- Relaunch of Racing UK as stand-alone channel following Setanta collapse (2009)
Richard will be stepping down gradually over the course of the next six weeks and RMG Finance Director, Martin Stevenson, will become acting CEO.
Notes to editors:
Key developments during Richard’s tenure as CEO:
ITV deal (2017-2023)
- RMG led the negotiations on appointing ITV as the new free-to-air broadcaster. ITV viewing figures have been impressive, with ITV4 audiences ahead of where Channel 4 were in their final year of the contract, while the coverage has won numerous, meaningful awards. No other sport can enjoy a shop window of nearly 100 days on a FTA platform. On the back of the deal, RMG secured circa 50 days of British racing on Virgin Media (formerly TV3) in Ireland from 2017 to 2020.
New W&B service and Behind Closed Doors (BCD) pricing (2020)
- New service should deliver 100%+ increase over the previous bet-to-view model.
Irish Rights (2019-2023)
- Having pursued the Irish rights for 6-plus years, RMG, in 2017, was successful in signing the rights on a strongly accretive model and drove the Racing TV subscribers to an all-time high (60,000).
Racing TV International (2019)
- Racecourse Media Group and Sports Information Services combined over 40 years of experience in the international betting markets to create Racing TVi – the new horse racing tote service for overseas betting operators. Every GBI Racing customer is retained.
Rebranding to Racing TV (2018)
- Racing UK rebrands as Racing TV to reflect the acquisition of the Irish rights, plus the international offering, principally racing from Meydan.
Launch of OTT services (2018)
- On the back of the Irish racing rights deal, RMG launched individual racecourse feeds via Racing TV Extra to develop a true OTT service. This feed has recently been significantly enhanced and incorporated into the Watch & Bet service (including new graphics).
New LBO deal with SIS (2018-2023)
- £50m “leakage” strategy delivered an increase of £20m p/a in LBO fees and offered racecourses long-term certainty with back-to-back deals.
Raceday Data (2018)
- RMG took over all aspects of the collection of race day data collection from Turf TV in April 2018, including the betting shows and official race day data, integrating official data with the BHA and PA
New MENA TV licencing model (2015 to 2023)
- To accommodate the Qatar investment in UK Racing, RMG delivered a non-exclusive relationship, based on sub-licensing fees, with Dubai Media Inc, resulting in an increase of circa 50% in rights fees.
- RMG signs distribution and production contracts with Meydan (about to embark on sixth consecutive year).
Racecourse Data Company (RDC) (2015)
- RDC is formed to manage the licence of pre-race data; key racing data vital to watching a race and placing a bet.
Pubs and Clubs (2013)
- RMG appoints Sky Business as sales/marketing agent for commercial business. RMG’s racing now principal offering on Sky’s racing channel in 10,000 pubs and clubs.
HD pictures (2010)
- RMG funded the new Outside Broadcast fleet to deliver HD pictures which transformed the experience (and at no extra P&L cost) and kept C4 engaged in the rights, leading to a renewal.
Launch of GBI Racing (2009-2018)
- RMG ended its contract with Phumelela to launch GBI Racing, the international broadcast wagering service JV with ATR, which distributed British and Irish content into betting shops / online in c.40 territories.
Relaunch of Racing UK (now Racing TV) (2009)
- Racing UK formed part of the Setanta sports bundle (cost c.£10 per month for their entire sports service) which subsequently went into administration and closed. RMG put in place a relaunch plan to coincide with the closure, which required an immediate EPG slot and OFCOM licence immediately. RMG relaunched at £20 per month and quickly attracted over 28,000 subscribers.