Entain seeks free-to-air TV presence after wagering advertising ban
Entain, the parent company of Ladbrokes and Neds, has taken proactive steps to tap into free-to-air TV audiences through negotiations with the Nine, Seven and Ten networks, aiming to navigate around the impending advertising restrictions in the wagering sector.
According to reports from the Australian Financial Review, Entain has engaged in discussions with each of the commercial networks regarding the possibility of purchasing airtime for a new racing broadcast platform. This move aims to disrupt Sky Racing’s dominance in the racing broadcast market, broaden the viewer base and showcase gambling products.
Insiders from the wagering and media industries revealed that Entain proposed a substantial offer of $8 million to secure channel space from the networks, with Ten reportedly showing the most interest in striking a deal.
Although no formal agreement has been reached yet, sources told AFR that Entain remains enthusiastic about the potential collaboration. The envisioned Entain-operated racing channel would be integrated into the programming line-up of channels like 9GO, 7mate, or 10 Peach, following the model of the successful Racing.com channel.
Initially established through a partnership between the Seven Network and Racing Victoria in 2015, Racing.com has evolved into a prominent platform for broadcasting Australian thoroughbred racing. Despite Seven’s divestment of ownership in 2020, a long-term commercial agreement ensures live and free coverage of Australian thoroughbred racing every Saturday.
In light of escalating concerns regarding online gambling’s impact, the Albanese Labor Government recently received the final report of the inquiry into online gambling and its adverse effects. The report highlighted Australia’s status as the highest per capita spender on legal gambling globally, with annual losses amounting to $25 billion. Additionally, Australians rank at the top for per capita losses in online gambling.
The inquiry’s recommendations included a comprehensive ban on internet gambling advertisements, which significantly contribute to media companies’ revenues, with TV networks alone reaping $179 million out of a total of $300.5 million in profits.
Responding to these recommendations, Free TV emphasised the importance of a balanced approach and cautioned against the potential negative impacts of advertising bans on the financial viability of commercial television services.