Return to free-to-air racing coverage on cards

John Allen.
John Allen.
The New Zealand Racing Board has offered hope live racing coverage will return to free-to-air television.

The organisation is not ruling out any option to secure its broadcasting future, chief executive John Allen said.

The New Zealand Racing Board is assessing how it broadcasts racing to the public as its contract with Sky television is due to expire next year.

''Work is under way to look at what the options are,'' Allen said.

''We are literally at the point where we are defining options. We are trying to work through which of those options is most effective.''

The NZRB should have a smorgasbord of broadcasting options to choose from, especially if it is to look at how racing is broadcast overseas.

Racing Victoria's broadcasting arm stretches its coverage across television, online streaming and website content as well as social media.

Moving to a concept like that is something the NZRB is considering.

''The environment is very very different than it was when the former management team were looking at the contract they concluded with Sky,'' Allen said.

''There are obviously a lot more digital options. There are obviously free-to-air options available and we are looking at all of that and talking to Sky and talking to other participants to try and make sure that the solution that we find going forward sets the industry up for real success.''

The NZRB teamed up with Sky in 2014 which was met with a chorus of disdain by many racing fans.

A move away from broadcasting on the Sky's paid subscriber network looks to align with one of the NZRB's key drivers for future success.

It wants to significantly lift the number of its account holders.

Sky's past two annual reports show its subscriber base is falling, so a move away from its network to a free-to-air or digital broadcast could bring racing coverage to more potential TAB customers.

A decision on what direction the NZRB would take its racing coverage would be made relatively soon, Allen said.

''Over the next few months I would expect our board to be having a look at this stuff and beginning to chart our way forward.''

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