Post price reflects hard times
Needless to say, next week’s price rise for the Racing Post from £2.90 to £3.20, an increase of over 10%, generated a lot of adverse comment.
Last year saw the removal of the price differential between the midweek editions and those published on Saturday and Sunday. Now the price rise across the week is somewhat eye watering.
Racing dailies have always been a premium purchase, much like the Financial Times. Indeed, it used to be said that you only needed to read two newspapers in life, the FT and The Sporting Life.
Not long before decimalisation, The Sporting Life cost one-shilling, whilst other dailies were about a third of that; that was when the Life had had an average daily circulation of around 125,000. The daily sale of the Post is about 25% of that figure. Although the reach of the Post’s content is probably greater than that of the Life in its heyday through online and digital availability.
And the expected closure of around 1,000 betting shops will not only have an adverse effect on prize-money, but also on the Racing Post. A conservative estimate puts the loss of annual revenue at around £750,000.
The trouble with print is that a lot of the costs, which are rising at a higher rate than inflation, are fixed despite the number of copies sold, and only a small proportion of outgoings is saved when producing fewer copies.
The Racing Post is not perfect but a lack of competition tells you something about the economics. Racing Plus, the Saturday only paper, folded, and its replacement The Racing Paper is a shadow of itself compared to the optimistic days of its launch just under a year ago.
Racing Post editor Tom Kerr (pictured) says the demise of print version is “a long, long time away I hope. It is not on our horizon at all.” Meanwhile, if you want to read it in print, you are going to see it continue to be very close to the price of a pint.
Four more years
If The Times is correct in saying that there is going to be an early renewal of ITV’s free-to-view contract to show racing for a further four years after the current deal ends in 21 months, then it is great news for racing.
The sport has been brilliantly covered by ITV Racing, and the two awards it has won, a BAFTA for last year’s Grand National coverage, and Ed Chamberlin and Francesca Cumani picking up the Sports Broadcasters of The Year at last week’s British Sports Journalism awards, are testament to that.
These scribblings have long since unfollowed bookmaker Geoff Banks on Twitter, not least for his repeated and tedious criticism of, first, the contract being taken away from Channel Four (where he sometimes appeared on the Morning Line), and then the prediction that viewing figures would plummet with the sport being largely shown on ITV4.
After a shaky start, not least on its 1 January debut transmission at Cheltenham, a modest rise of Cheltenham Festival viewing figures and a drop for the Grand National, the chippy bookie was in his element.
But then, with ITV Racing hitting its stride, the viewing figures started a continued upward trend. Last year’s Derby had a peak viewing figure of 1.8m, the best since 2013.
Banks continued his sniping but was running out of ammunition, and awarding ITV with the contract to cover racing has been fully vindicated. Fingers crossed it gets that four-year extension.
For more on TV racing see http://wp.me/p8e3Dl-1ss