05/05/2016 5:48PM

Churchill Downs, TVG still at impasse


Churchill Downs and Television Games Network have not been able to reach an agreement allowing TVG to broadcast the track’s races live on its flagship network or on its website for this year’s spring meet, officials for both sides said this week.

The signal blackout on TVG’s most widely distributed network and the company’s account-wagering platform began on Saturday, when Churchill began its spring meet, according to John Hindman, the legal counsel for TVG. However, the live television signal is available on TVG2, a network that TVG rebranded after acquiring its only competitor, HRTV, early last year. TVG2 is available on far fewer televisions than the flagship station.

Churchill’s vice president of communications, John Asher, noted on Thursday that TVG’s customers are still able to wager on Churchill’s races on TVG’s website despite the lack of a race signal. However, he said the two companies have not been able to come to an agreement on a contract for “streaming rights” of the track’s races that would also enable TVG to broadcast the races on its flagship network.

“We have made a proposal that would provide the network with streaming rights and enable it to televise most of our track’s spring-meet races,” with the exception of races covered under broadcast and streaming agreements with NBC Sports, Asher said. “We feel our proposal is reasonable and would benefit both parties, and it remains on the table.”

Churchill’s races were broadcast live on TVG’s flagship network during the spring meet last year, with the exception of the races covered by the NBC agreements.

The blackout is likely related to the competition between the two companies in the account-wagering market. Churchill’s account-wagering operation, twinspires.com, has been showing the track’s races live and taking bets on its races since the start of the spring meet. 

The weeklong run-up to the Kentucky Derby is the most important promotional period of the year for account-wagering operators, as the companies attempt to exploit national attention on the Derby to entice casual racing fans to their operations. Compared to committed racing fans, casual fans are far less likely to already have a betting account than hard-core fans.

Churchill was a former partner in HRTV with another racing company, The Stronach Group, but Churchill sold its stake in 2014, the year before TVG acquired the network. With the acquisition, TVG gained the signal rights to all of the tracks owned by The Stronach Group for seven years, as well as the existing contracts held by HRTV. At the time, Churchill had distribution contracts with HRTV, but the company has not commented since the acquisition on the terms of those contracts. 

Charmaine Todd More than 1 year ago
I've been watching the old HRTV folks on XBTV.com.  I can't stand listening to those idiots on TVG.  Had an account there.  Always had problems getting money in and out of the account.  Went to Twinspires and it's a dream.  Thank God for the NBC coverage of the triple crown and breeders cup.  At least I don't have to listen to those blathering idiots idiots on TVG talk about their alcoholic binges or any other garbage because they know nothing about horses.  All they want you to do is bet money and, if you follow their leads, bet poorly,
Michael Pollard More than 1 year ago
Idiots fighting over what else, money!  Once again the patrons lose.  
John More than 1 year ago
i HAD ABOUT $600 to play on Churchills card tomorrow , now Ill play maybe $100 on the televised
derby, the rest on Santa Anita and Belmont 
YOU LOSE CHURCHILL......................................WAKE UP IDIOTS
John More than 1 year ago
From what I understand, the breaking point between them is TVG's refusal to broadcast Churchill Downs ADVERTISING ON THEIR betting platform,....... the TVG network !......
Come on , make a little on the advertising , then just produce the better platform and bettors will follow .........................simple , the best product wins !
Charles Pablico More than 1 year ago
Who cares the only time I play CD is Derby day. The need  to lower the take out.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Who cares in two days no one will be playing Churchill
Lisa Cash More than 1 year ago
Guarantee they will jam all TVG account signals at the track this weekend.
Larry Lein More than 1 year ago
Keeneland is far superior to CD anyway.  Other than the Derby, I could care less if I see any of their racing.  They can continue to keep their product irrelevant, nothing will be missed.
Bruce Epstein More than 1 year ago
100% agree!  Other than Derby week, who needs to bet 5 and 6 horse fields?
J Vette More than 1 year ago
TOTAL & COMPLETE IDIOTS are running these 2 B.S. companies.... Don't EVER do what's good for racing, just keep doing what you are doing so we can have basically no Horse Racing Fans.... what the hell, they don't count.
John McTague More than 1 year ago
well said!