Net hopes pact will make younger viewers aware of sport

HorseRacing TV has won the equivalent of the Triple Crown by signing a carriage deal with EchoStar that will catapult HRTV’s customer base from about 1.6 million to 11 million.

Bill Bridgen, president of HRTV, said the EchoStar deal is important because “we need to get more young people to become aware of horseracing, and the best way to do that is to get on television.”

EchoStar also carries HRTV’s competitor the TV Games Network, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. TV Games reaches about 13 million subscribers.

Unlike most other cable networks, HRTV pays the cable operators and satellite distributors for carriage instead of charging a license fee. HRTV computes the payment to the operator, based on a percentage of the revenue from the bets placed by subscribers in the cable system’s region.

HRTV’s sole source of revenue is from the wagering because the network doesn’t accept advertising.

Magna Entertainment Corp., the parent company of HRTV, owns 13 racetracks, which is more than any other company in North America. It also has access to live coverage from more than 60 other racetracks throughout the continent. In addition, Magna owns betting facilities, including an Internet and telephone-account wagering system.

HGTV carries an average of 15 hours a day of live horseraces, repeating some of them late at night. It also plans, Bridgen said, to produce more features and documentaries about owners, jockeys and other people active in the sport.

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