Television Games Network (TVG), the horseracing broadcaster and account-wagering company/ subsidiary of Betfair Group, has re-signed Keeneland Racecourse and Del Mar Thoroughbred Club in Kentucky and California to exclusive television agreements through 2016.
TVG has also begun asking tracks to commit to high-definition broadcasts as part of a push to get an HD channel slot on satellite and cable networks, TVG officials said on Thursday.
As part of the agreements with TVG, Keeneland and Del Mar will each receive a seat on a TVG committee which will look to capitalize on HD channel slots. As part of the agreement with Del Mar, TVG will remain the title sponsor of the Grade 1 Pacific Classic and the Keeneland agreement includes a what the network termed as a “multi-tier sponsorship” with the track.
TVG is currently available in 36 million homes on both major satellite networks and a variety of local cable networks, but not in HD.
While HD capability will serve well to enhance the horse racing product, many tracks are dragging their feet as HD equipment doesn’t come cheap and often costs tracks millions of dollars. To date, only one TVG track, Keeneland, has made the investments necessary to broadcast in HD.
Stephen Burn, TVG’s chief executive, said in a news release that TVG will begin to survey racetracks over the next several weeks about their willingness to invest in HD equipment, at which point the network will decide whether to aggressively pursue an HD slot.
“Much of this depends on whether we can get a critical mass of customers that want to broadcast in HD,” Burn said. “If we can get that, then we can go to the satellite and cable networks and fight for bandwidth.”
Burn said TVG would need to invest several million dollars to upgrade its broadcast capability as well. The network is owned by Betfair, the British betting exchange operator.