Entain Considers Making a Bid for Free-to-Air TV in the Australian Market

Entain, a major player in the global gambling industry, is reportedly looking into securing direct access to a free-to-air TV channel aimed at Australian audiences. The purpose of this move is to broadcast racing events, explore synergies, promote gambling products, and challenge the monopoly of Tabcorp-owned Sky Racing. Entain’s previous experience in broadcasting gives them an advantage and may help them leverage a potential agreement.

According to a recent report in the Australian Financial Review, Entain, which owns well-known wagering brands such as Ladbrokes and Neds, reached out to leading commercial networks including Seven, Nine, and Ten a few months ago. The proposal involved exploring the potential creation of a new platform for broadcasting greyhound, harness, and thoroughbred racing.

Entain reportedly offered around $8 million per year to rent a channel, with Network Ten being the closest to a deal. While no agreement has been finalized, the move signals an attempt to diversify broadcasting options. If successful, the model would be based on the Racing.com channel, which was initially a joint venture between Seven Network and Racing Victoria.

However, in order to manage a dedicated free-to-air channel, securing racing rights is crucial. Entain previously struck a 25-year deal with New Zealand TAB with the aim of expanding the audience and providing NZ racing with a more significant presence in Australia. Success with the company’s newest media venture in the region would break Tabcorp’s control over the broadcast of state-based racing and potentially bring significant dividends.

A successful deal could bring long-term benefits, as the multichannel deal for racing could be a strategic move for betting companies and TV networks to navigate an anticipated crackdown on online gambling advertising. Diversified marketing options should shield Entain from such a crackdown, improving marketing opportunities.

Entering the free-to-air TV space should give Entain a significant edge in the Australian market. Tabcorp’s Sky Racing Channel, which offers content similar to Entain’s preferred offerings, is currently only available via Foxtel and the Kayo streaming service. A free-to-air entry by the gaming giant would significantly disrupt the current status quo and reach broader audiences.

This exploration of a multichannel deal is part of Entain’s broader reorganization initiatives. The company is undergoing significant strategic realignment, accompanied by ongoing high-level management reshuffles. This newest expansion into broadcasting aligns with Entain’s ongoing efforts to diversify its operations and strengthen its position in the evolving wagering and broadcasting landscape.