For the past few weeks, we have been running a series of responses to The Jockey Club's proposed cap on a stallion's book at 140 mares. Many people expressed the feeling that there were more pressing problems to which the industry should attend. So we asked a group of respondents, `What should we fix first?'
It's a media rights issue. As much energy as the industry has put into medication and breakdowns, I firmly believe we are barking up the wrong tree. Both issues are very important and need attention, however the shrinking fan base is killing the sport. It can be extremely difficult to simply watch a horse race. It must be made easier for fans to access the live and replay video or audio of every race at every racetrack in North America. The people that wager or follow the sport should be able to study, review, send, and share a race between email, text, social media or any other platforms. Content is king in today's world and American horse racing is stuck in the dark ages.
Only 1-2% of Americans consider themselves horse racing fans, while in Australia, it's 25% and in England it's closer to 20%. We are obviously doing something wrong. The more difficult it is for fans to watch the sport, the fewer fans. Until we get everything out from behind the paywall, fans are going to continue to disappear. In the state of Texas, it can be very difficult to simply watch your horses, much less wager. You cannot access Advanced Deposit Wagering companies. If the industry made a concerted effort to open ADW wagering in Texas, it would lift the wagering pools. There are other states as well that need lobbying efforts, immediately!
Consider growing the fan base from a younger persons viewpoint? If you are under 18, you can't open an ADW account. If you're in the wrong state, you cannot open an account. If you don't have a credit card, you cannot open an account, and subsequently you can't watch a race. Until we make it easier for young people to watch, access, and follow, then the sport is doomed in North America.
Baseball made a decision in the 1930s to put their games on the radio. Fans got interested, and since then baseball has thrived and other sports have followed. All racetracks need to have a radio show in their market area, and they need to have some sort of easy television or internet access without a paywall. The internet and streaming service make this possible for a minimal investment locally, nationally and internationally. What are we hiding? Other sports are on Sirius radio, Apple TV as well as other streaming platforms, but no horse racing. Nonexistent. We've been too slow to adapt. It's going to take a strong team to get this done, but it will change the game.
I also believe that the Interstate Horse Racing Act of 1978 needs to address the existence of smart phones and ADWs that want to grow the sport. Its language is severely outdated because it was created during the growth of simulcasting. These are complicated issues that affect the growth of the sport.
We created Horse Races Now as an answer to many of the problems that I believe need solving. It grows 8,000 new users monthly, but certain industry forces don't want us to be successful. We are a classic startup company that is attempting to disrupt old habits. If there are those out there that want to be part of our efforts and would like to see our business details, reach out to [email protected] for more information.
We are all in this together. See you at the races.