Churchill Downs

Churchill Downs

Anne M. Eberhardt

TVG Gets Churchill, other TrackNet Signals

Customers of TVG will be able to wager on the Churchill Downs spring meet.

Customers of TVG will be able to wager on the Churchill Downs spring meet beginning May 1, it was announced in the early evening of April 30. The limited-term deal, which runs through Oct. 31, includes other TrackNet-affiliated tracks including, Pimlico Race Course, Arlington Park, and Calder Race Course, among others.

The agreement allows for account wagering and video streaming on the TVG Web site, but not rights to broadcast any of the signals on the TVG television network. Wagering will be available through TVG beginning May 1, in time for the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) card, and also the May 2 card of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).

Additionally, TVG gained rights, per the agreement's time period, to several tracks affiliated with Magna Entertainment Corp: Laurel Park, Lone Star Park, Portland Meadows, and Remington Park. TVG also gains signals for Hoosier Park and Pinnacle Race Course, which are affiliated with TrackNet.

With the deal, TVG will gain signals it has not had since the formation of TrackNet Media Group in March 2007. TrackNet, which is a content venture of CDI and MEC, has historically been at odds with TVG over a business model of exclusive contracts the horse racing network has held through the years.

TVG was purchased in January by British-based wagering conglomerate Betfair, which previously stated it was open to renewed negotiating efforts with TrackNet.

“Under Betfair’s new ownership, TVG has made significant strides to ensure its commitment to U.S. racing in a short time, and we’re hopeful this partnership will continue to evolve for the betterment of the sport,” TrackNet president Scott Daruty said in a statement.

In the same statement, Betfair U.S. president Gerard Cunningham said the company was "delighted to reach an agreement with an esteemed partner like TrackNet, the unrivaled leader in horse racing content in the United States."

TrackNet-affiliated racing signals are televised exclusively on HRTV, a competitor to TVG that is jointly-owned by CDI and MEC. A TVG-affiliated entity, ODS Technologies, in March 2007 filed a patent infringement lawsuit that included as defendants HRTV and MEC. HRTV, which was developed by MEC, has been dismissed from the lawsuit. CDI is not a party to the action.

It is not clear why the deal only runs through Oct. 31. Churchill's fall meet begins Nov. 1, while Arlington's 2009 meet, which begins May 1, runs through Sept. 27. Calder, which began April 24, runs through Jan. 2, 2010.

In a recent wide-ranging interview with The Blood-Horse, Betfair executive Greg Nichols said it was important for both sides to come to some sort of understanding. “We both know what is required to consummate a deal, and all I can say is that we are very keen for that to happen,” he said at the time.

It was previously announced that, Youbet, Inc., and XpressBet were among the national account wagering outlets taking the Churchill Downs signal. Twinspires is owned by CDI while XpressBet is owned by MEC. Youbet, which is a publicly-traded entity that had contractual relationships with TVG, had also been previously shut out from most TrackNet-affiliated signals.