The Skinny on NBC hosting all three...consistency

BloodHorse.com has recently posted two stories from it's weekly magazine, Final Turn and What's Going On Here. These pieces are related to the Thoroughbred industry advertising itself and commenting on NBC hosting all three triple crown races.

The Skinny on NBC hosting all three...consistency

Television show content has been heavily disputed by many of you loyal racing fans. The every day fan enjoys the generic pre-race profiles, and of course I do too. The long time racing fans, horsemen and serious bettors understandably have had issues with pre-show content. Not necessarily all of it, but one common criticism was more meat or depth to the stories.

One concerning issue I agree with is cinematography could be more simple than the previous few years. While I admire the coordination and beautiful shots, the progression of the race is hard to keep track of with ten or more views jumping around in two minutes.

If you have had gripes about the camera work, I would encourage you to write NBC and kindly suggest their producers involved with the live racing coverage to review footage from racetracks. Producers have the final call on managing the day's unfolding events with directors conducting videographers and production teams. With watching track feeds, their education will possibly help piece together interesting angles that aide viewers in tracking the progression of the race. Rather than ten artistically awesome views that resemble the sky cam of college basketball. (referencing the sky camera from UK's basketball game). I admit I am partial to the blimp overhead shots though.

With the camera angles being critiqued, lets look at the content. NBC has more incentive to develop story lines and see them through the three big days. That means a months worth of content on horse racing potentially. You can have ongoing drama with horses who visit two or three of the Triple Crown races. Plenty of drama can be fulfilled to engage a non racing fan with story and enough background information in to appease the appetite of horse lovers and industry persons. A few past features I still remember and enjoyed were on Rachel Alexandra, Hal Wiggins and Chip Woolley.

Broadcasting/tv station coverage access will be a challenge and nuisance. Much of the 'lead up' coverage being hosted on versus is a loss for the industry. Cable is down due the economy and Americans realizing digital HD broadcasting is free with antennae or simply choosing web based entertainment. Versus is commonly on high channel digits or in more premium television packages. The majority of lower class, much of middle class and most young viewers will not have regular access to the pre-race stories and features that could drive growth or gain new blood. You can read statistics and details on television here.

ESPN3.com was amazing for race coverage not accessible on basic cable for the Breeders' Cup. Hopefully NBC will have an answer to that on the web.  My family and I personally watched all of the coverage online last year, until the major race coverage went to NBC on basic cable. My parents use a television antennae for digital HD broadcasting and only pay for an internet service provider, which is the growing trend mentioned earlier. They save money by not paying a cable TV cost, a smart move for the current economic environment.

As for young people, if local bars carry the race, that would be a good idea, but I would encourage tracks to promote or host large viewings with the races. Opportunity for attracting new customers and getting folks introduced to the nearest track. When young people have a positive experience, they will be much more likely to come back and bring friends. My generation is social if you have not noticed =)

For engaging, encouraging and educating handicappers or fans to handicap, How about an ongoing bank roll for specific celebrities (Jerry O'Conell for example) through all the Triple Crown prep races and then highlights with the three jewels.

What are your ideas to reach younger viewers, educate people on various arms of the industry, and yet fulfill the depth of love for industry members?

Now the numbers...

Complaints on coverage of horse racing versus other sports is nothing more than numbers. Capitalism basics will reveal supply and demand trends. People are demanding other sports, thus advertisers will pay more for those time/content slots, which would be prime time. If you would like to see more racing in prime time, you will need to show the money and/or convince big advertisers to support our sport. There is a reason you see so many drug commercials for the evening news for example. Drug advertisers know this is a prime time slot, their target audience of Baby Boomers are watching, and these companies have a lot of money to push.  That is another issue of sport vitality in the near and long term.

An interesting article was written in the Wall Street Journal on the value of the baby boomer age range in television. Maybe you can convince advertisers and networks that these are loyal viewers of these events and capable of drawing in the cash.

As far as sponsors, with the Kentucky Derby as the center piece, focus on fashion and lifestyle would appeal to the masses and media. The high life and celebrity engagements flow into mainstream news broadcasts regularly now.

NBC did air trailers a week before their big racing coverage last year, but a week of hard hitting ads is not early enough or as effective as long term regular select spots, so people are reminded to mark their calenders and set aside dates. The Triple Crown should be three dates to remember.

11 Comments

Leave a Comment:

Kathryn

I completely agree! Though the camera work is artistic and fun, it is not exactly the best way to view a horse race. Even through following the race call, it is sometimes difficult to visually figure out what horse is leading. I really do not see the necessity of having the "artsy" view, instead of the most accessible and the view that is most easily followed. However, NBC does a fantastic job covering each horse's story, each trainer's background, and the strugles and/or triumphs of each competitor. This helps un-regular racing fans be pulled directly into the race, become more involved, and therefore, possibly a new racing fan. Racing needs fans, and overall, NBC has the ability to pull them in. But there is still work for them to do to perfect the viewing and enjoyment of horse racing for the direhard and occasional fan.

10 Mar 2011 5:41 PM
Merry

PLEASE take off Hank the looser - that guy is a total turn off to racing.  Jerry Baily and Randy Mosss are what are needed for MCs.  Gary Stevens is insightful too.

10 Mar 2011 6:17 PM
Slew

I still miss ABC coverage with Jim McKay...there has been none better.

11 Mar 2011 7:27 AM
Fran Loszynski

I still can't forget the Kentucky Derby when Afleet Alex's son and Smarty Jones son walked down the turf to race. They also by coincidence had side by side post positions! what were the chances of that? Little was said. Both sires had remarkable stories and "there were their sons, side by side!" The channel that plays these races NBC I hope elaborates on these things in the Derby.

13 Mar 2011 11:28 AM
Merry

I can't believe there were only 4 comments - this is an important blog.  What's the deal - it was too nuts and bolts?!?!

14 Mar 2011 8:00 PM
Lee

I also miss Jim McKay!

I thoroughly enjoy Jerry Bailey and Randy Moss but they are on ABC/ESPN not NBC....

15 Mar 2011 12:39 AM
Monica

I agree with Fran!  True that most horses, especially colts, have short careers. Here today gone (to "the shed") tomorrow!  This can discourage fans from following the sport year after year.  But through their offspring, their careers continue. Therefore, the angle suggested by Fran for pre-race stories is a good one!  I, for one, follow the offspring of my favorites- Smarty and Alex being two.

15 Mar 2011 10:14 AM
LauraJ

Quote:

"As far as sponsors, with the Kentucky Derby as the center piece, focus on fashion and lifestyle would appeal to the masses and media. The high life and celebrity engagements flow into mainstream news broadcasts regularly now."

Please no. My main objection to NBC's sports coverage (HATE their Olympic broadcasts) is that they focus way too much on such fluff. I remember last year's Oaks Day coverage on Bravo, featuring the Real Housewives of somewhere-or-other. The host was Bravo's Andy Cohen, who knows nothing about horse racing. (He called jockeys "little fellas" and was surprised that they have agents.) Very little was said about horseracing. Maybe they are using the fluff to attract women, but most female sports fans I know are actually interested in sports. Anyway, there are plenty of interesting women (and men too)--trainers. jockeys, owners, etc.---that could be the subject of relevant human interest stories. I don't need to hear more about Paris Hilton and her ilk, no matter how fancy their hats. Can we please hear about, say, Rosie Napravnik instead?

I think the idea of following the offspring of famous horses is great.

16 Mar 2011 8:47 PM
Oldie

LauraJ I agree wholeheartedly - I am a female who has watched sporting events since I was a small child, and in the case of horse racing, I think auto racing coverage provides important lessons along with some coverage of dog shows.  Between the two, one should be able to arrive at appropriate coverage for horse racing, no?  It is a contest of speed between animals many viewers either own or have had contact with.  It isn't a fashion show, a "reality" show, an awards show or an Entertainment Tonight type show, so I fail to understand why NBC and Bravo try to make it into some conglomeration of those things.  Watch a Formula One race sometime - you learn about the cars, the drivers, the team principals and owners, the rules, what it takes to reach the point each team and team-member is at, and even some industry gossip.  If a celeb is present they get a few seconds on camera, then back to the event.  Believe it or not, no one seems to miss the garbage that Network Honchos think serves as entertainment.  Just my two cents.

25 Mar 2011 10:12 AM
MD Reynolds

I was very disappointed to see that NBC has failed to show any of the derby prep races! Also,

P L E A S E  lose Hank!

12 Apr 2011 5:00 PM
Racingfan

The baby boomer age group should love to see racing on tv since they were at the tracks back when racing was a big deal!  Somebody should focus on that for sure!  Where were all the preps on tv this year?  If not for TVG I wouldn't have seen a one and many of those were tape delay from HRTV which I don't get.  Hank Goldberg needs to go. He is just too irritating--my mute button comes in handy when he is on.  And personally I don't like the fashion stuff they show so much of now. I tape the pre-race so I can fast forward thru all that junk.  I would like to see a lot more horses and industry people profiled in the pre-race coverage!  Local tracks should attract fans to the track for a "triple crown like" celebration and it should be ADVERTISED all over for a period of time prior to grab attention. That way people who can't actually be there can still experience it to some degree.  Just my thoughts......

14 Apr 2011 10:13 PM

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