Spotlight Sports and Racing Post Could Be Sold in $500M Auction

Posted on: November 1, 2021, 10:55h. 

Last updated on: November 1, 2021, 02:45h.

Sports media group Spotlight Sports, owner of leading UK horse racing publication The Racing Post, is up for sale, according to Sky News.

Racing Post
The Racing Post, shown here, has been a staple for UK gamblers for the past 30 years, although it suspended its print edition during the cancellation of racing in the UK last year. (Image: Racing Post)

The British broadcaster reports that Spotlight’s private equity owner, Exponent, is in talks with investment banks about a possible auction next year. Exponent wants $500 million for the media group, which also provides sports data feeds to the sports betting industry.

Exponent is eager to cash in on the new appetite for third-party data services, largely driven by the liberalization of sports betting laws in the United States.

The demand for data saw market leaders Sportradar and Genius Sports go public in the US earlier this year, with valuations of $21 billion and $5.4 billion, respectively.

Spotlight on Post

While The Racing Post is the best known of Spotlight’s brands, it could have an uncertain future under a new US-focused owner, especially in print form. The newspaper is a staple for UK gamblers, who can be seen studying its pages religiously in betting shops up and down the country.

But Spotlight CEO Adam Byrne told Bloomberg in mid-October that revenues had been hit hard by the pandemic, which caused the temporary suspension of racing and the closure of betting shops. The 16 percent fall in revenues in 2020 to $64.8 million ($89 million) was partly offset by digital growth, he added.

The Post suspended its print operations during last year’s racing cancellations.

Initially a print media business, Spotlight now generates around 70 percent of its revenues from its digital media and sports data services.

Digital Growth

The Racing Post was launched in 1986 as a rival to the now-defunct Sporting Life, a title that was in constant publication from 1856 until its demise in 1998. Founded by Dubai ruler and prominent racehorse owner Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Post has changed hands on several occasions in the intervening years.

The exponent acquired the title in 2016 for an undisclosed sum. The private equity group has since concentrated on growing digital channels under the Spotlight banner. These include the websites Free Super Tips and MyRacing, and the US-focused sports betting tips site Pickwise.

Along with its sports data operations, subsidiary ICS Digital offers search engine optimization, digital marketing, and translation services for the betting industry.

Sheikh Al Maktoum owns the rights to The Racing Post name in perpetuity, which means the title could be revived if a new owner didn’t want it. He is also the founder of the world’s largest horse racing team, the Godolphin stable. He also owns Darley Stud, the biggest thoroughbred horse breeding operation in the world.