Top racing duo help launch £1m broadcast studios

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FORMER Channel 4 racing duo John Francome and Jim McGrath are reuniting for the first time in more than a year to celebrate the opening of William Hill’s new £1m broadcast studios in Leeds.

The pair will take part in an exclusive Cheltenham Festival preview on Thursday which will be streamed live to William Hill’s web and mobile platforms and on Facebook and YouTube.

Highlights of the show will also be aired in all 2,400 William Hill shops.

They will be joined on the phone by a host of racing guests and William Hill ambassador, 18-time Champion Jockey AP McCoy, who will give his expert analysis ahead of the festival.

Former footballer and William Hill ambassador Robbie Savage will also attend the event – and record an exclusive FA Cup preview show.

The facility at William Hill’s offices in St John’s Centre took three months to build and was designed by BDA Creative, which has previously worked with BBC News and Sport, Sky News, BT Sport, Channel 4 and Match of the Day.

Mike Grenham, head of broadcast, said: “These are the best broadcast facilities in the industry.

“We now have the tools and resources to significantly improve our service to our customers.

“This is a major investment and allows us huge flexibility to expand our broadcast capabilities and improve our programming.

“The studios are housed alongside our marketing, trading and retail operations, ensuring we can offer a truly integrated, targeted, service.”

A minimum of 50 hours of live TV programming will be broadcast from the studio each week and it will operate seven days a week.

This is in addition to a number of pre-recorded shows and hundreds of hours of live radio from an array of broadcast suites. The studios also house green screen facilities.

Leeds has been central to the development of William Hill’s online business.

The group launched its first website in the city under Ralph Topping, then the head of internet and now the group chief executive.

The internet has changed the face of the betting industry, allowing a wider range of people to gamble on sporting events.

Online gaming rival Sky Bet is also based in Leeds.

The BSkyB division posted a 27 per cent increase in revenues to £84m following a 15 per cent rise in unique users in the first half of the financial year.