by Mateusz Mazur

Last update: 14.02.2024 09:29

Entain’s Bold Move to Launch Free-to-Air Racing Channel

As reported by Australian Financial Review, in a strategic bid to widen its audience reach, Entain, one of Australia’s leading bookmakers and owner of prominent wagering brands Ladbrokes and Neds, has initiated discussions with major commercial networks including Seven, Nine, and Ten.

The goal is to secure a spectrum slot for launching a free-to-air racing channel, a venture that could revolutionize how racing is broadcasted in Australia and challenge the current monopoly held by Tabcorp-owned Sky Racing.

Entain’s Vision for a New Racing Platform

Entain’s proposition involves an estimated $8 million annual investment to rent a channel from one of the commercial broadcasters, with Network Ten being the closest to striking a deal. This move aims not only to broadcast racing to larger audiences but also to promote gambling products amidst looming crackdowns on online gambling advertising.

The Australian gambling and media landscape is on the cusp of significant regulatory changes, with a parliamentary inquiry last year recommending a total ban on internet gambling ads. This ban could potentially reshape how gambling companies and TV networks navigate advertising, pushing them towards dedicated racing channels and programming, which might be exempt from the proposed restrictions.

The Strategic Implications

Entain’s proposed channel would serve multiple strategic purposes. It would provide an alternative to Tabcorp’s Sky Racing, offering free-to-air access to racing content and potentially loosening Tabcorp’s tight grip on the broadcast of state-based racing. This initiative mirrors the model of Racing.com, a joint venture initially between Seven Network and Racing Victoria, illustrating the potential success of such a venture.

A significant hurdle for Entain’s free-to-air racing channel would be acquiring the necessary racing rights, a challenge underscored by Entain’s recent 25-year deal with New Zealand TAB. This deal emphasizes the importance of broadcasting rights in expanding racing’s audience, particularly in giving NZ racing a larger presence in Australia.

Beyond the free-to-air channel, Entain is actively exploring other opportunities within the Australian gambling sector, including the potential acquisition of the retail wagering license for WA TAB. This move, part of a broader strategy being facilitated by Barrenjoey, highlights Entain’s ambitious plans to expand its footprint in the Australian gambling market.

Our Comment on the Article

Entain’s initiative to launch a free-to-air racing channel represents a significant strategic move within the Australian iGaming and betting industry.

By broadening access to racing content and leveraging free-to-air platforms, Entain could significantly alter the competitive landscape, challenging existing monopolies and offering audiences more diverse and accessible racing content. This development underscores the dynamic nature of the iGaming industry and the innovative strategies companies are employing to navigate regulatory changes and enhance user engagement.

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