Fox Sports and the New York Racing Association expanded their current rights pact, making the 21st Century Fox-owned unit the national TV home for the league’s races from Saratoga Race Course and Belmont Park. The agreement marks the latest Fox foray to snap up live sports rights as its parent company gears up to sell the bulk of its entertainment assets to Walt Disney Co. in 2019.
Under terms of the deal, Fox will televise 500 hours of NYRA racing in 2019, including including coverage of nearly every race day at Belmont and Saratoga, then expand to more than 600 hours starting in 2020. NYRA and Fox had previously agreed to air more than more than 100 hours of NYRA coverage on the Fox Sports 2 cable network in 2018.
Fox is “looking forward to presenting more horse racing on a national stage than ever before,” said Michael Mulvihill, executive vice president of league operations, research and strategy for Fox Sports, in a prepared statement. “With this commitment, Fox Sports has taken the lead in developing content in the fast-growing area of sports gaming by expanding our relationship with the most prestigious name in horse racing, the New York Racing Association.”
Fox has secured new rights to several different sports properties in recent months, including the NFL’s “Thursday Night Football,” the WWE’s’ “Smackdown Live” and even professional bowling.
The two parties have worked together since Fox Sports broadcast the 2016 summer meet at Saratoga, offering 80 hours of live coverage to a national audience on Fox Sports 2.
“With increased competition for wagering dollars, we recognize the importance of capturing the attention of sports fans and bettors using high quality television production to provide the best coverage and racing analysis available anywhere today, which is something our television department has been providing for the last two years,” said Chris Kay, president and CEO of NYRA, in a statement.
MSG Networks will continue to be NYRA’s regional home in 2019 and beyond, presenting tri-state viewers with more than 225 hours of coverage throughout the year. In 2017, NYRA added new markets in California via agreements with Fox Sports Prime Ticket and Fox Sports San Diego. In addition, NBC and NBCSN will continue to broadcast the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival as well as other races.