Back in the 1990's a friend and I decided we'd create something that scraped the box scores of football games and packaged them in searchable form for fantasy football team managers. It never got off the ground other than in rudimentary fashion. But the fact remained that a couple of guys who liked the challenge of fantasy football, could put together something that the NFL didn't publish on the web (yet); and do it for almost no money.
Netflix packages a series - a series that maybe 200,000 viewers watched live - and shows it to people interested in watching it in a new way; by binge-watching on the web. Amazon or Etsy or - well dozens of others - harness their technology to sell something for you, or with you in a unique way.
Racing often talks about "taking control of their product", but I think that's overused. When someone has complete control, stagnation can ensue, and customers can leave, because no matter what the product is, there are complimentary products elsewhere (usually outside the industry). When your product is not resold by companies who need customers, marketing and innovation can be hurt. Resellers mean something to any business.
I had a chat with one of the TimeformUS guys today (disclosure, I know a couple of them and like them; have for years), and I came away summarily impressed, once again, at some of the innovation going on over there. They're taking data, real time track feeds, and through a proprietary figure maker, displaying selections, PP's and data in a new way. But it's more than that.
People often wondered why Tiger Woods changed his swing when he was winning. He did so because he saw young guys coming up and an extra five yards - in length or through accuracy - could make a difference. He never stopped, never settled. That's what's going on over there. New products, viewing of said products etc, are all being looked at.
There are literally 10,000 or more factors that can go into handicapping and it's a game for people who like that sort of thing. In current form, much of what we use for our handicapping has been presented in a dumbed down format in an old-school way. TimeformUS has regular type PP's, and you can use it as you wish, but it also has more. And to them, just more is not good enough. They want to try even harder to innovate and be successful.
Racing needs companies like that. It needs resellers, selling data in new ways, or offering you a break on takeout at an ADW (there are several), or making the viewing experience better (like Twinspires). Many things. It's not bells and whistles, it's the air the industry's customer breathes.
One of my fave, and often used quotes on the blog comes from Godin's Free Prize Inside. It involves talking about the satisfied customers, the unsatisfied ones, and the ones who are satisfied, but don't even know they have a problem. Companies like TFUS are going after the unsatisfied, but primarily those who are satisfied but don't know how much better it can be.
Racing needs that kind of thinking to survive, and hopefully thrive.
I'd be remiss to mention another type reseller, Bris. Ed and the team created a Handicapping Media Award named for the well-liked and recently passed Ron Rippey. Barry Meadow won the first installment of the award yesterday. This award took into account articles written independently, on blogs or newsletters and was judged by a person like Jessica Chapel, an innovator and forward thinker in the space herself.
The NFL - much to our point above - has been very innovative. Here's something new.
Yesterday's Cross Country double thing only had about $26,000 in the pool. This needs some rethinking. Steve Crist, in a fiery set of paragraphs, talked about the bet yesterday. This was vintage 1990 Crist. Not unlike Beyer, for quite a period in his writing, before I suspect he got tired banging his head against the wall.
Keeneland's handle was down to $4.6 million yesterday, a bad number. When the meet is over, and if handle is down, no doubt they will mention field size as a culprit, but much of it is self-inflicted. At this point in the meet in 2013, 57 shippers came from Presque Isle and Woodbine. This year that number is 14. As well, off the turf races will have fewer runners this year. Be careful of red herrings in the racing media.
Today in Harness Racing Update - an appreciation for what we've seen from the great horses of 2014. Thoroughbred racing has retirements, horses that race a handful of times and sometimes never meet. Harness racing is fortunate to have plenty of fast, excellent horses, who meet each other and decide things on the track.
Have a great day everyone.
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