United Video Satellite Group (USVG) of Tulsa, Oklahoma, corporate parent of ODS Technologies and the Television Games Network, announced December 10 that it has approved $40 million in immediate additional funding to launch the horse racing network in 1999.
When combined with the $35 million spent to acquire and operate ODS-TVG to date, United Video has committed over $75 million to the network. Speaking for United Video at the University of Arizona Symposium on Racing, ODS-TVG President and Chief Executive Officer Mark D. Wilson said the financial commitment is the most significant piece to date in the process of developing a major television network for the racing industry. "With extensive market and system testing providing the basis of a sound business plan, United Video is satisfied that pari-mutuel racing merits the kind of development capital necessary for a national television network," Wilson said.
TVG will be a 24-hour, 7-days-per-week entertainment network featuring horse racing and integrated interactive wagering. It will be distributed to cable and satellite affiliates worldwide. The wagering element will be supported by personal computer and telephone account wagering systems. Wilson said that when USVG's expenditure of more than $30 million to purchase ODS and the ongoing investment projected for the following launch are added, "USVG's total commitment to the network likely will exceed $135 million by the end of the year 2000." He pointed out that "United Video brings to the table an extraordinary corporate family that includes News Corp., which now owns 44 percent of United Video; Fox Sports, the dynamic sports entertainment arm of News Corp.; Liberty Media, John Malone's new operating entity which also will own 44 percent of United Video; and TCI, the cable giant which helps with analog and digital distribution. That means we have access to the proven production of Fox, the production facilities of TCI's National Digital Television Center in Los Angeles, TCI's vast cable and satellite distribution relationships, the technological capabilities of United Video, which sits at the epicenter of digital set-top converter box development and the expanded entertainment universe that goes along with it; and the financial resources of United Video, whose enterprise value now exceeds $3 billion."
Regarding the revenue sharing associated with the network-based wagering, he noted that ODS and TVG "have been dedicated from the outset to a straightforward concept: a fair deal for the interested parties including tracks and horsemen; sending and receiving markets; and investors."
In addition, he announced that California's Los Alamitos and Bay Meadows racetracks have become the latest additions to the ODS-TVG Founders Circle, bringing to 18 the number of major racing centers having committed exclusively to the Television Games Network.