TVG Deal Opens NJSEA to TrackNet

TVG Deal Opens NJSEA to TrackNet
A deal struck between TVG and the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority extends the network’s previous agreement for rights to signals from Monmouth Park and Meadowlands, but allows the NJSEA to separately negotiate with entities affiliated with TrackNet Media Group.

A Dec. 12 news release from TVG said the company had “renewed its exclusive television distribution and account wagering rights agreement” with NJSEA. But the one-year agreement also carries modified language that allows the authority to separately work out deals for its signals with selected parties TrackNet entities, said Alex Dadoyan, NJSEA assistant vice president of off-track wagering and simulcasting.

TrackNet Media Group, which is a joint venture between Churchill Downs Inc. and Magna Entertainment Corp., was formed earlier this year, in part, as a direct competitor to TVG.

“The new extension allows us to negotiate with some other ADWs,” said Dadoyan of CDI's and MEC's XpressBet operations. “We are not free to negotiate all ADW rights. This improves last year’s deal because it allows us to reach out to other ADWs that last year didn’t have content from Monmouth Park and Meadowlands.”

When asked to clarify its statement on the exclusive nature of the contract, TVG general manager David Nathanson in a telephone interview issued the following statement to The Blood-Horse: “We are pleased that the NJSEA chose to extend our existing agreement.”

Historically, tracks that sign with TVG are contractually prevented from selling their signals to other ADW providers. Undisclosed compensation will be paid to TVG if and when an agreement is reached between the NJSEA and TrackNet.

Dadoyan said a deal to give signals to TrackNet is nearing completion, a negotiation that an executive of the content consortium also confirmed.

“We are confident in the next few days we will have a finalized agreement,” TrackNet president Scott Daruty said. “We are just working out the final details."

TrackNet and TVG are part of an experiment in California that will allow all ADW providers in the state access to all Thoroughbred signals. Signed in early November, the agreement covers an eight-month period.

TVG this year has lost some racing content previously secured through exclusive contracts. TVG still airs racing from Calder Race Course, a CDI property, but that agreement is set to expire in April 2008.

“I am pleased that the NJSEA is pursuing a strategy of broad account wagering distribution,” Daruty said. “They will find that the broader distribution is good for their product.”

The deal between TVG and the NJSEA becomes effective Jan.1, 2008. According to company data, TVG is available in about 50 million homes world-wide, while HRTV, which is jointly-held by CDI and MEC, is available in about 13 million homes.

TVG is a subsidiary of Gemstar-TV Guide International, which announced Dec. 7 it had reached agreement with Macrovision Corp. for a $2.8-billion merger, a deal expected to close early in the second quarter of 2008. Though no immediate plans have been released in regards to the future of TVG after the merger, a Dec. 10 email correspondence signed by a TVG executive said normal operations will continue indefinitely.

"Rest assured, it is business as usual at TVG," said the e-mail signed by Kevin D. Plate', vice president of advertising sales. "This announcement in no way affects our relationship with you, our commitment to the racing industry, or our growing distribution of the highest quality horseracing production and services in cable television."

Gemstar is a publicly-traded company of which nearly 41% is controlled by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. In Dec. 7 filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, News Corp. said it had 174,931,474 shares of Gemstar stock, and would vote in favor of the proposed merger.

News Corp. earlier this year agreed to buy Dow Jones, the publisher of the Wall Street Journal, for $5 billion. That deal was expected to gain shareholder approval Dec. 13.

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