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Big Racing Days Are Great, But They're Missing Out on Landing New Fans & Customers

Over the last few years there's been quite a bit of talk about big racing days. As smaller tracks struggle with handles, the large tracks have done fairly well (in racing context well, which is incremental). When a big day is added, a track can do really well.

And, when a track does really well, like Churchill's handle was this weekend, it does spin off.
This is, when we think of it logically, the way things are supposed to happen. It's all good.

Further to the core numbers, as written last week, the Derby brand creates buzz, and this buzz spins off in other ways:

As those graphs show, not only are there more bettors and fans watching these days, there are more people who are newbies who are looking to learn about horse racing.

That's wonderful, right? Sure it is.

Check out the same phenomenon with the Super Bowl and searches for "NFL apparel" during the big game (2014 stats, but it's the same every year):


That's great. This overpriced gear is a huge driver of revenue, for both the players and the league, and it's important. Seeing a huge spike, with hundreds of thousands of willing buyers, is a ready-made market.

The NFL market differs from racing from here on out, though.

The NFL searcher goes directly to NFL.com. He or she puts in a simple credit card, goes to checkout, and gets a shirt in a week.

It's a little more than that, because the newly interested person is captured. He or she is signing up to a very good website in the process, with all kinds of information on the NFL, including fantasy sports, live video, highlights, information on teams, players (historical and today's) and just about every statistic imaginable.

Meanwhile, searchers for horse racing - new fans too - probably visit Twinspires or TVG and see an encompassing process. They don't see free video, or statistics, or anything else of true value. All they see is a company trying to hook them into something.

Maybe they land on equibase and wonder why they have to go through a process to see how many times Always Dreaming raced this season. Maybe they click on a few links and wonder why that link drove them to a paywall. 

For those who search how to be a horse owner, well good luck learning anything.

If a game is leaning on big days, that's fine. But the business has to be streamlined to take advantage of big days. If not, the sport, or business is not acting in optimal fashion.

Racing has not taken advantage of a willing audience on their biggest and brightest days, while others have worked very hard - and work hard each day - to do exactly that. It's an issue that, if addressed, can help horse racing do more with their big events.

Have a nice Thursday everyone.


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