Last year for the College Football National Championship, ESPN and their related channels sliced and diced the audience with the so-called "MegaCast". The megacast involved different audio feeds (each school's radio teams), different perspectives (a living room type atmosphere on one of their channels with sports figures watching the game), a "command center" with continuous replays, different camera angles, feeds and (and this is bigger and bigger now), fantasy stats and advanced analytics in real time.
Last season, 34 million people watched the "MegaCast" in some way, shape or form.
This year ESPN has added a few new wrinkles to try; including the "replay booth". When a replay is called the main network will go to a commercial, but another will have NCAA officials onhand dissecting the replay film, under the hood, so to speak. For fans this is pretty interesting.
Complete details are here.
ESPN clearly believes that harnessing technology, and everything it has to offer can enhance the viewer experience. It's not cannibalization of the main network feed, if you engage more users to watch (via various means) and give them a reason to stick around a lot longer than they might have, while entertaining them.
Horse racing has taken the opposite stance with their production. An ABC telecast in 1970 of the Belmont Stakes looks very similar as it does today. Despite some bells and whistles it's ostensibly the same product.
Moving to advanced analytics and stats..... well, what advanced analytics and stats? For a game that is built for a statistical environment, it's like those statistics are a secret, or at the very least something we expect viewers to mail order for $10.99.
Watching a football game is not rocket science. There are downs and plays, and more downs and plays. But by broadening the viewership tent by showing that the game is more than just downs and plays - it's coaching decisions, and commentary and stats and probabilities, you can attract people who are interested in those aspects. Maybe they are drafting a fantasy team next year, betting a few dollars in Vegas, joining a football pool.
It's foolhardy to compare racing to something as big as a College Bowl or a Super Bowl; those sports are massive, depend on viewership to exist and have budgets to spend. However, it strikes me while they improve and experiment and try to offer more, racing sticks in the same bog of showing brown horses run around in a circle, all the while wondering why more people don't want to watch brown horses running around in a circle.
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