In just a few short weeks, scores of racing fans from across the United Kingdom and beyond will descend on Liverpool’s Aintree racecourse for the 2017 Grand National, an event which -if precedent is anything to go by- is set to be the biggest and most profitable race of the year.
As if the thousands of spectators spending thousands upon thousands on Grand National betting at Aintree wasn’t enough, the 2017 event is also predicted to attract the event’s biggest television audience to date, as millions tune in to watch the event on ITV.
This marks the first year that the channel will be showing the event, with television rights to Britain’s most famous horse racing event typically going to either the BBC or Channel 4 until ITV snapped up the rights in the latest round of bidding.
A £30 Million Investment
According to a report from The Guardian last year, the terrestrial broadcaster paid somewhere in excess of £30 million for the rights to show not only the ‘National, but other major race meets including The Royal Ascot, Cheltenham Festival, and other smaller meets, which have been set to broadcaster on sister station, ITV4.
Whilst winning the broadcast contract is no doubt a huge victory for the company, that £30 million investment will need to be recouped somehow. So, as we approach the final few weeks in the run up to this year’s race, expect to see the broadcaster go on a wholescale campaign to generate as much revenue as possible from what is already set to one of 2017’s biggest days in British and International sport.
The cost of advertising around the event, both on terrestrial television, through digital media platforms, and even the company’s infocommerce websites are already higher than they would around other events and regularly scheduled program.
Record Setting Amounts Spent on TV Advertising
That of course, spells bad news for those industries most closely associated with events such as the Grand National and The Royal Ascot; the bookmakers and online betting websites.
In 2016 alone, the gambling industry invested over £165 million in television advertising, a figure that many experts are predicting will rise by the end of 2017, especially if ITV’s hike on the cost of air time around the big race is anything to go by.
Moving Away from Traditional Advertising
Not to be defeated however, top booking firms such as Ladbrokes and William Hill have already begun looking outside of traditional advertising platforms as a means of increasing their own revenues come ‘National day.
Just recently, The official William Hill Grand National Day 2017 guide was released online, a clear indicator of the company’s increased use of the world wide web and modern digital media channels to produce more cost effective advertising than traditional pay-to-air television commercials.
An Increase in Social Marketing
That of course, is just for starters. Over the coming weeks, we should expect to see firms like William Hill upping the ante on social media too.
Just last year, the company followed Ladbrokes onto brand new social media platform Betfect, a site described as the Facebook of gambling, which allows punters to compare their bets with others, discuss race tips, and generally connect with other sports betting fans across the UK and beyond.
At the time, a spokesman for the company heralded the move as one designed to “boost innovation…and increase engagement” in the online gambling world, something which has so far proved to be both successful and profitable for the brand.
With the 2017 Grand National now just weeks away, we should be expecting to see the brand using Betfect even more, along with increasing their efforts on Facebook, Twitter, and especially Youtube, a platform which serves as a viable (and more affordable) way of distributing commercials than standard broadcast television.
Even when they do, ITV should have no reason to worry. With record setting amounts being spent on television advertising by bookmakers in 2017, the broadcaster will have no problem in recouping its £30 million investment on the biggest and most popular horse racing event anywhere in the UK.