Independent.ie and Irish Greyhound Board to show live races and offer online betting
IN a significant development of its continuing digital strategy, Independent News & Media (INM) has teamed up with the Irish Greyhound Board (IGB) to show races live over the media group's website.
Viewers will also be able to place bets through Ireland's most popular news website as part of a unique collaboration that the partners believe will deliver strong revenue generation and provide a boost to the sport at a crucial time.
The three-year deal forms part of a five-year strategic plan just finalised by the IGB, the semi-state body tasked with promoting and supporting the sport in Ireland.
Independent Newspapers will stream live races across its website and mobile platforms from October.
IGB chief executive Adrian Neilan said the commercial partnership offers a huge potential audience for the sport, with the Independent.ie website attracting more than four million unique visitors every month.
He said racegoers and punters might typically read about an upcoming race in the newspaper, but then go to their bookie – either in-store or online – to place a bet.
"Why wouldn't the media partner and the racing partner just keep people within their own ecosystem and monetise that?" said Mr Neilan.
"Media companies are coming up with new ways of generating income, and this is a way of doing that. It's the same with us.
"We have to evolve as an organisation. Where before we wanted people to pay their admission and come to places such as Shelbourne Park, they now want to dictate when they want to watch.
"They want to do that at home or in a pub, and they don't necessarily want to come to a stadium. We have to appreciate that."
In 2011, revenue at the IGB dipped to €31.8m from €32.8m, while it posted a surplus of €524,000 compared with just under €3m a year earlier.
It provided €1.5m in grants to private greyhound racing stadiums in 2011 compared with €53,000 the previous year. The sport is worth about €500m a year to the economy and supports nearly 11,000 full- and part-time jobs.
Independent Newspapers' managing director Declan Carlyle said the venture is a strong offering for readers, and one of many initiatives going on-stream in coming months.
"This initiative complements our recently enhanced print coverage and further demonstrates our commitment to the sport," he said.
The live streaming will be publicised at racetracks throughout Ireland and will enable people living outside Ireland to watch race meetings and, if it is permitted in their jurisdiction, to place bets.
The IGB's new five-year strategy aims to boost its cash resources by €3.7m between this year and 2017.
Its chairman, Phil Meaney, told the Irish Independent that the executive operating structure of the IGB is being altered to further improve its effectiveness.
"We've remained profitable, but I'd be happy that we'll have the structure in place that when the pick-up in the economy comes we'll be able to drive the sport on again," he said.