WHY AND HOW THE GRAND NATIONAL IS AN ATTRACTIVE PROPOSITION
This weekend sees the annual Randox Health Grand National, with free-to-air broadcaster ITV set to televise one of UK racing’s most high-profile events for the first time. The competition for broadcast rights has very quickly become one of the most intriguing battles in horse racing. ITV returned to the track at the start of the year following a 30-year hiatus after winning the rights to cover various fixtures, including the Cheltenham Festival, the Derby and the Grand National.
Aside from the increased propensity of betting surrounding horse racing, the sport represents a huge commercial opportunity for rights holders, broadcasters and sponsors alike. In the build up to this weekend’s spectacle, there has been an uplift in UK horse racing TV viewership since the Cheltenham Festival, which took place last month. Coverage of the four days at Cheltenham saw an estimated cumulative audience of 3.6 million viewers tune in – representing a 34% growth from 2016. Additionally, day one of this year’s Grand National meeting generated a programme audience of 657,370 on ITV, a 20% rise in comparison to 2016 when Channel 4 had the rights. Day one also recorded a larger peak audience than the previous year – 948,200 (+25% growth).
Footnote: Day 1 (Aintree) overnight audiences
Nielsen Sports’ specialist tracking service, Sponsor Link, monitors sponsorship trends and developments over time. Research shows a rise in interest around the Grand National, with 53% of the UK sample showing interest in the event. Interest levels around the Grand National in the UK are significantly higher than other major horse racing events, such as the Cheltenham Festival and meetings at Ascot and Newmarket, underlining the commercial opportunity for all stakeholders.