TVG Ends Contract Talks With Churchill Downs Inc.

TVG Ends Contract Talks With Churchill Downs Inc.
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TVG announced Feb. 15 that it has discontinued negotiations on extending its television and advance deposit wagering contract with Churchill Downs Inc.

Concurrently, the network announced plans for a significant reallocation of its television programming, production and promotional resources and advance deposit wagering contributions.

TVG’s exclusive contracts with Churchill Downs and Fair Grounds both expire in early 2007. Its exclusive contracts with CDI’s Arlington Park and Calder Race Course expire in later 2007 and in early 2008, respectively. TVG has committed to showcase the remaining CDI tracks through the end of their term.

“Nearing the end of a 10-year relationship with CDI, we were seeing continued growth in our television distribution and account wagering handle, as CDI continued to divest of racetrack properties, diminishing its importance to our business,” said David Nathanson, TVG’s general manager, in a statement released by his company.

Over the past two years, CDI has sold, or announced pending transactions to sell Hollywood Park, Hoosier Park and Ellis Park. According to the TVG, the share of wagering by its subscribers on CDI’s owned tracks plunged from over 30% of TVG’s total wagering to less than 13%, including wagering on Kentucky Derby day.

“We respect our relationships with horsemen and racing fans at CDI tracks and sincerely regret that they may not be able to easily access CDI races on television, wager on CDI races on TVG’s wagering platforms, or share in purse revenue generated from TVG’s advance deposit wagering and source market fees following the expirations of our current agreements with CDI,” Nathanson said.

In a statement later released by CDI, Bill Carstanjen, the company's executive vice president and chief development officer, said, "We are fully exploring our options going forward with regards to television and account-wagering rights. We will make our plans public in the near future and will work diligently to ensure a seamless transition for our customers.”

Churchill Downs filed a breach of contract lawsuit against TVG last November over the latter company’s involvement in a British-based broadcast venture called “The Racing Network International.” Churchill Downs claims that it invested in a separate United Kingdom broadcast program called “Racing World” only after the company was told by officials that TVG had no interest in expanding internationally.

In legal filings, TVG has argued that it has in no way violated contractual agreements and suggests that Churchill Downs violated the pacts by partnering in “Racing World.”

TVG didn’t offer the Kentucky Derby Future Wager Feb. 8-11, telling subscribers the company felt it was “better served extending our resources to those products that we know we will be able to provide to our customers on an ongoing basis.”

This spring, TVG said it plans to reallocate its programming to Kentucky’s Keeneland, New York’s Belmont Park, Southern California’s Hollywood Park, and Monmouth Park, TVG’s newest exclusive track partner and home to the 2007 Breeders’ Cup World Championships.

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