The newspaper industry is having a tough time. Layoffs, decreased readership, a lack of trust by readers. Recently, media mogul Rupert Murdoch held a lecture series about media and what went wrong. His thoughts are covered by one of the best tech writers out there at CNET.
"My summary of the way some of the established media has responded to the internet is this: it's not newspapers that might become obsolete. It's some of the editors, reporters, and proprietors who are forgetting a newspaper's most precious asset: the bond with its readers,"
“The complacency stems from having enjoyed a monopoly--and now finding they have to compete for an audience they once took for granted. The condescension that many show their readers is an even bigger problem. It takes no special genius to point out that if you are contemptuous of your customers, you are going to have a hard time getting them to buy your product. Newspapers are no exception."
In 2008, customers have become super-users, super-readers, super-bettors; and super informed. The Internet has allowed customers to call the shots, or at the very least be informed about what they are told.
Just like a left wing thinker can surf to the New York Times in a nanosecond for columnists that agree with them, and a right wing person can surf to the Washington Times for another view, a bettor has choices. If he does not like the high prices in racing he can go to betfair and bet the football game. If he is in New Mexico and he does not like the fact that he has two ADW’s but he still can’t bet Belmont, he does not bet Belmont. Or worse yet, he gets frustrated and takes off to the football game to bet that, too. If he finds out he can’t bet online in his state, he opens an offshore account where State houses have no say - and horse owners get no benefit. If he logs into his Ameritrade account and buys $5000 of stock in a click for $8.95, and he doesn't understand why he has to pay $17 for a $100 bet at The Meadowlands via the same mouse click, he plays more Ameritrade. The days of being dictated to are long gone.
Can this be fixed? Sure it can. Develop a plan, a plan to take advantage of racings two customers in this new world: Appreciate and create positive customer experiences with fans and make it easy for them to be a fan through modern reach mechanisms on the Internet, and for the bettors who take the game seriously, offer them a good price (i.e. a rebate) and access to all tracks through the Internet. Most important: Trust that your customers are smart consumers who have choices, and fight like hell for their business like every other company does.
Despite the blemishes, however, Murdoch said newspapers can still count on circulation gains "if papers provide readers with news they can trust." He added they will also need to embrace technology advances like RSS feeds and targeted e-mails. The challenge, according to Murdoch, will be to "use a newspaper's brand while allowing readers to personalize the news for themselves-and then deliver it in the ways that they want."
We are not there yet. Not even close. Look at the current ADW fight in the US, or with recent horseman and track fights in Canada - they are shutting out racing customers as almost an afterthought, like they do not matter. Worse yet, we have the greatest medium to grow this sport we arguably have ever had and they can’t figure out what to do with it, except squabble over percentages. The monopoly will not die, eventhough the fork has been stuck in it for over ten years.
I don’t think horse racing as a betting sport is obsolete, not at all. Actually it is tailor-made for the internet. The folks in charge just have to find a way to make sure that they find a way to grow back the bond and trust with their customers, and exploit racings reach by pricing properly on the web. If they do not, I fear we will be a footnote of wagering history.
Pajamas? Oh ya, I almost forgot. We should never discount them people in the pajamas:
Murdoch criticized the media reaction after bloggers debunked a "60 Minutes" report by former CBS anchor, Dan Rather, that President Bush had evaded service during his days in the National Guard.
"Far from celebrating this citizen journalism, the establishment media reacted defensively. During an appearance on Fox News, a CBS executive attacked the bloggers in a statement that will go down in the annals of arrogance. '60 Minutes,' he said, was a professional organization with 'multiple layers of checks and balances.' By contrast, he dismissed the blogger as 'a guy sitting in his living room in his pajamas writing.' But eventually it was the guys sitting in their pajamas who forced Mr. Rather and his producer to resign.
"Mr. Rather and his defenders are not alone," he continued. "A recent American study reported that many editors and reporters simply do not trust their readers to make good decisions. Let's be clear about what this means. This is a polite way of saying that these editors and reporters think their readers are too stupid to think for themselves."