This afternoon Todd Schrupp announced on TVG that the company has entered into an agreement with Keeneland and Del Mar to provide coverage from those tracks through 2016 AND to push forward with HD broadcasts in the future. This will require TVG to create an HD-version of their current channel, a channel that would be the first in the industry.
The move to HD has, in my opinion, been needed for a long time. HD broadcasts are standard for every single sport in the U.S., with the exception of horse racing. We get HD for the Triple Crown and the Breeders' Cup, but day-to-day racing has yet to catch-up. And while this development will require additional capital investments, it's a strong move to build racing's television presence in the future.
Keeneland made the switch to HD several years ago, which you can see when watching their track feed streams on the internet, as did the Churchill Downs tracks (CD, Arlington, Calder, Fair Grounds). These moves, however, were largely symbolic since neither of the television providers - HRTV and TVG - actually has an HD channel in order to distribute the technology to the racing public. Similarly, simulcast feeds at tracks and OTBs across the country didn't show races from those tracks in HD. So while Keeneland and CDN utilize HD cameras and pump out an HD signal, the technology has been severely under-exposed to the horse racing public due to a lack of distribution.
What needed to happen for HD horse racing to become a reality in the United States (it's standard in Europe) is for one of the providers to make the investment in broadcasting HD races on their platform. Today's announcement by TVG is a welcome sign that one of them is finally taking that step.
Well done, TVG, Keeneland and Del Mar.
The full press release from TVG is below:
TVG TEAMS WITH KEENELAND AND DEL MAR TO DRIVE OPPORTUNITIES FOR HIGH DEFINITION TELEVISION INNOVATION
LOS ANGELES, September 29, 2011 – TVG announced today that it has signed new agreements with Keeneland and Del Mar as part of a major new initiative to pursue daily coverage of U.S. horseracing in high definition television on its nationally distributed television network. Under the agreements, TVG will televise racing from Keeneland and Del Mar exclusively through at least 2016, continue to accept advance deposit wagers on races from the legendary venues, remain the title sponsor of the TVG Pacific Classic (Gr. 1), assume a multi-tiered sponsorship with Keeneland and form a new television advisory committee, of which Keeneland and Del Mar are charter members.
“Keeneland and Del Mar are not only two of the premier tracks in racing, but they have time and again demonstrated true leadership and commitment to the betterment of our industry,” said Stephen Burn, CEO of TVG. “As the industry is re-discovering the importance of television, we agreed with Keeneland and Del Mar that the time is right to pursue taking televised horseracing to the next level – HD. Their commitment to TVG will be rewarded with unprecedented coverage of Keeneland and Del Mar racing on our growing television network and we hope to move forward with other like-minded racing associations willing to make the same commitment for the betterment of the sport.”
The TVG Network is distributed in approximately 36 million homes by every major cable, satellite and telecommunications television provider in the United States including DirecTV, Dish Network, Comcast, COX, Time Warner, Cablevision, AT&T and Verizon. TVG plans to pursue agreements with additional tracks interested in having their races televised in high definition with premium placement on the network.
“Thoroughbred Racing is a majestic sport and its beauty and pageantry are best displayed through the high definition platform. As with all sports, televised horseracing must go HD to stay relevant in the marketplace,” said Nick Nicholson, President and CEO of Keeneland. “We have invested in HD over the years and are thrilled that TVG is moving forward to pursue opportunities to bring the best product possible to our national television audience. We look forward to conveying the full radiance and beauty of Keeneland to a national audience.”
TVG has been title sponsor of Del Mar’s premier event and the west’s only $1 million Thoroughbred race for older horses, the TVG Pacific Classic (Gr. 1) since 2010.
“TVG’s support of our biggest event has been crucial to our ability to maintain quality horseracing over the last few years in tough circumstances for our industry,” said Joe Harper, CEO of Del Mar Thoroughbred Club. “We are very excited to have the opportunity to pursue nationwide HD distribution of our product with them. High definition television is tailor-made for our sport. We look forward tothis opportunity via our partnership with TVG.”
TVG, a subsidiary of Betfair Group PLC, the premier e-gaming betting community, is among the most widely distributed horseracing networks in the world. TVG is one of the largest legal online gaming companies in the US, accepting over $600 million in wagers in 2010. The company has demonstrated its commitment to the racing industry, its owners, tracks and fans through sponsorship of several preeminent races including the TVG Breeders Cup Mile and the TVG Pacific Classic. TVG viewers in certain areas can wager interactively on races via telephone, the Internet, TVG Mobile or Interactive Television by establishing a wagering account online at www.tvg.com or by telephone at 1-888-PLAY-TVG.