Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Harness Handicapping Finals - Use TV Right

I read the latest edition of the Horseplayer's Magazine and they spoke of the national handicapping championship to be held this month in Vegas. Handride linked a press release about it on his blog, noting that since ESPN is not covering it this year, Twin Spires has created an update channel with live video and reporting from Jill Byrne. Bravo.

Now, what about ours for harness here in Canada?

I went to the last one - not as a qualifier of course - at Woodbine. It was done well, with Trot people, and Woodbine providing a nice venue, some food and drink and all the rest (Woodbine bashers can choose something else to bug them about; this was well done). However, there was no coverage on the Woodbine in-house show, or anywhere else. I frankly enjoyed being there to see how a few friends were doing, and am generally interested in these contests as they are entertaining. But if I was not there I would have had no idea it was going on, and no idea who was winning. It was done in a vacuum.

To possibly correct this, my idea is quite simple: Run the National Handicapping contest on North America Cup night, when it is on the Score television network. Devote much of the show to the contest. Highlight handicappers, the big prize and everything else. Apparently, although we lobby government constantly in racing, there is a rule that we can not show betting on the airwaves. Why, in this day and age when Party Poker can show it and we can't is beyond me, but here is something we can show. We can show 10's of thousands at stake and the decisions behind them. We can show personalities if there are any. It can be filmed, updated and edited for the web.

I am not the first or the last to say this: Enough with stories on feed men driving around in a truck full of hay that monopolizes the coverage both here, and on ESPN and other networks! They have not worked to gain us fans for 50 years, and won't now. It is time to use our TV time better, and more efficiently. "Watch someone earn $25,000 this Saturday on the Score."

If a handicapper falls in the forest does anyone hear it? Let's make sure people hear it; loud and clear. This is one way that we can do it. Our TV time is precious, and it should be treated as a privilege, and every second should be used to maximize its reach. Let use it right.


Greg Blanchard said...

Hi Dean,

Just to clarify, we did do some hits from the Handicapping Challenge on our in-house show, probably four or five of them throughout the night.

But, I totally agree that we could do much more with it. It has the potential to make for compelling t.v.

It's something I've written about in my blog column and it's an idea that's definitely been floated around here at Woodbine and has received a lot of interest. I'm hopeful we can step the t.v. aspect up substantially this year.

Greg Blanchard

Pull the Pocket said...

Hey Greg,

I missed the updates this year, so apologies about that. I know last year I was at home wondering what was happening and I could not find out.

I read your blog piece (note to everyone, it is on the Woodbine columns site and well worth checking out) and I agreed with you on that. I know you guys have a lot of ideas for the show and I bet you are handcuffed by more than one thing, but I sincerely hope that this year we can see some interesting stuff relating to some of the handicapping and contests etc.

It will be interesting to see what Jill Byrne and the rest do on in highlighting the contest in real time. I am going to be watching and I hope they archive it. We should be able to see what works and what does not. I heard last year that they could not get handicappers to talk much, being such an isolated game, so I hope that is rectified. If edited and so on, perhaps it is a good four or five part show for Game TV or something like that.

Thanks for the reply,


Greg Blanchard said...

I'm very interested in watching that as well. So, if you are able to archive it, that would be super. I'm sure some solid ideas will come from it.

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