Horse Racing deal to shake up ITV daytime schedules
From 2017, the broadcaster will be the exclusive home of British Horse Racing, taking over from Channel 4 in a deal that sees ITV showing nearly 100 days of racing each year, including all the marquee events on ITV's main channel, such as the Cheltenham Festival, the Grand National from Aintree, The Derby from Epsom Downs, Royal Ascot and British Champions Day from Ascot, the Goodwood Festival, the Ebor Festival from York and the St Leger from Doncaster.
ITV will show a minimum of 34 fixtures on it's main channel and 60 on ITV4, in addition to a magazine preview programme broadcast each Saturday morning on ITV4. As it currently stands, the inclusion of ITV4 coverage will mean that some horse racing will only be available in high definition to viewers with Sky or Virgin Media from next year.
Horse racing used to be shown on ITV until the 1980s, the decade when the sport, alongside with other "non-mainstream" content, such as schools programmes were shunted to Channel 4 - back in the days when the then regional ITV companies controlled ad sales on Channel 4. Channel 4 had only recently expanded its horse racing coverage, taking over ex-BBC races such as The Grand National. Channel 4 will be filling its weekends with Formula 1 coverage from this year in a three-year deal announced last month.
ITV's contract to show horse racing runs until the end of 2020.