Monday, February 23, 2015

The TVG-HRTV Merger/Buyout Thingy

TVG has bought out (or is in the process of buying out) HRTV. Some quick back-of-the-napkin thoughts on why this could be good and why it could be very, very bad.

Good

  • TVG has better distribution deals, notably with carriers such as DIRECTV and Comcast. (Both channels are already on DISH.) TVG owning both channels could be the ticket to placement of HRTV (or TVG2, cause that's what it essentially will be), in more homes. That would be very good.
  • TVG and HRTV duplicate some tracks (like NYRA and Cali) while some other tracks get relegated to the almost-worthless "tape delayed" status. With both channels coming under the same network (and hopefully equal distribution of both channels), the opportunity could arise to show many more races live.

 

The Bad 

  • The worst case scenario is TVG taking all the good content from HRTV, running dual channels until the full acquisition is complete and then simply shutting down HRTV. I don't think that's what they plan on doing but that's the nuclear option.
  • There are a lot of things that each channel does well and I hope that TVG execs has the self-reflection required to incorporate some of HRTV's strengths at TVG. The entire day doesn't need to be filled with the on-air talents Pick 4 and Pick 6 tickets (most of which are absolute horrible bets). You don't need to spend an hour in the morning before the first race talking about a Pick 6; there are other bets and handicapping angles than Pick 4s/6s, and, incidentally, most of those are much better plays for over 90% of all horseplayers.

 

Something Else That Needs To Get Done

The press release announcing the buyout mentioned that TVG has new, state-of-the-art HD studios. That's nice and all but those studios are useless if the standalone TVG channel is SD.* (The only time TVG broadcasts in HD is when it's simulcasting over the FoxSports regional stations, like FoxSports West, etc.)

It's time to have a full-time, HD horse racing channel. Check that. It's waaaay past due to have a full-time HD horse racing channel. Horse racing is already a decade behind other sports in implementing HD technology and the time is now to fill that gaping hole.

So, TVG, when you're talking to the satellite carriers and cable companies, it's time to push for them to carry TVG HD, otherwise you're new studios are, for the most part, useless.

*Multiple things must occur to get HD on your TV at home: 1) the action must be filmed with HD camera, 2) transmitted from HD studios to 3) an HD channel (which is offered by a satellite or cable carrier), 4) which is then viewed through your HDTV 5) after you have purchased an HD package from your carrier. 

You'd be surprised how many people think they are watching HD when they are actually watching SD. Really surprised. Like shockingly surprised.

Speaking of lack of HD technology - the tracks as big of a problem as the broadcast channels. Santa Anita, New York, Kentucky, and several others, have HD cameras filming races at the track, but many, many more are still in the stone age, both in terms of the signal beamed out for simulcasting and the in-house coverage. It's time to get with the times.

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