Royal Ascot Coverage To Air On ITV4 Instead Of ITV Due To 2018 World Cup
Royal Ascot "will have to play second fiddle" to the 2018 World Cup, according to Mark Souster of the LONDON TIMES. The "pulling power and profile of the tournament is such that at least half of the coverage" of the five days of the royal meeting from June 19-23 "will be shunted from the main ITV channel on to ITV4 for commercial reasons." That means 15 or more of the 30 races at Flat racing’s premier meeting will be shown on the free-to-air digital platform. The most affected day features the Gold Cup on June 21, when all of the racing will be on ITV4. There are two group stage football matches scheduled in Russia, with ITV covering Denmark vs. Australia, which kicks off at 1pm, and France vs. Peru, which starts at 4pm. It "is not an ideal scenario but one that Ascot was fully aware of" when the deal with ITV for the rights to racing was being negotiated. The appeal of football "is illustrated by the fact that ITV is understood to have only once" had an audience of less than 2 million viewers for any World Cup match. In contrast, Royal Ascot peaked last year at 1.4 million for the Gold Cup and averaged 1 million on that day (LONDON TIMES, 12/12).