The race is on TV!
The shareholders in thoroughbred racing channel TVN have been taken by surprise by Sky Channel’s announcement of two new racing channels on Foxtel.
However they have stopped short of declaring a TV war as happened a few years ago when the race clubs fought for control of the vision from racetracks.
The TAB-owned Sky announced on Tuesday it had entered into a deal with PayTV provider Foxtel for another two channels to be known as Sky Racing 2 and Sky Racing World.
The channels will be available to hotels, clubs, TABs as well as homes.
Sky Racing1 and Sky Racing2 will also showcase the premier harness and greyhound events while Sky Racing World is aiming to provide a superior presentation of thoroughbred racing.
"Sky Racing intends to create a platform for the presentation of racing that provides punters with choice and gives all racing codes the opportunity to present their product," Tabcorp managing director of wagering, Robert Nason, said.
The two Sydney metropolitan race clubs, the Australian Jockey Club (AJC) and Sydney Turf Club (STC) are 50 per cent shareholders in TVN with the Victorian race clubs holding the other half share.
"We will look at what Sky is doing, we haven’t seen this before," STC chairman Bill Picken said.
"The most important thing is that we still own the broadcast rights."
Although Nason said he was confident there would be a smooth transition to the new format, AJC vice-chairman John Cornish said many things needed to be considered.
"The potential is there for things to hot up," Cornish said.
The Sky venture is designed to tap into the worldwide television and wagering markets.
TABcorp director of wagering Robert Nason said the time was right to tap into the international market and showcase Australian racing.
Sky Racing has appointed David Raphael to host its thoroughbred component, Adam Hamilton for harness racing and Brendon Damon for greyhounds.
Nason said having three channels would give the customer the choice of what coverage they wanted but it would come at a cost with the payment schedule yet to be decided.
Currently Sky Racing and TVN are included with basic packages on Foxtel.
Race clubs derive their revenue from the distribution of funds from the TAB.