Racing's Betting Revenue Resurgence (If it Happens) Will Probably Be Forced

The headlines have been blaring -- Sears Bleeds Cash, Macy's Cuts Employees - and in retail this is nothing really new. Those not positioned properly are having a very tough time of it in today's world. They don't want to close, they are being forced to close. Incrementally losing market share never ends up very good in perfectly competitive markets.

Meanwhile over in the world of music, much of the talk about its death might be exaggerated. We as consumers used to purchased CD's for $3 a song, and when that cratered (and after pulling some teeth) the industry changed to a download model. That, once again, has changed.

Infographic: Audio Streaming's Stunning Resurgence | Statista
You will find more statistics at Statista

That's an 80% growth in streaming in one year.

But the margins are bad, right? Yes, you and I can stream ten songs for peanuts, not pay $18.99 in 1991 dollars, but at this lower price point, and with modern technology available today, more people are consuming more music.

It is estimated that over 130 million people will be in the digital music space in 2021 in the US, each spending $39.37 on consumption. Revenues are growing, and are slated to grow even more.

I am no expert on the space - I have a few books on it, ironically purchased at full price on my iPad I have not read - but the tenets are clear:

The music world did not want to change; they wanted high-margin-low-volume to be its forever. But, record stores were closed, "free" models took over, revenue fell, the industry changed, then revenue began to grow again.

At the present time, the sport of racing - like Sears for many years - has been able to plug holes, to nickel and dime, to scrape by. Slots have kept humming, government with legislation (like the UIEGA) has helped with almost monopoly protection. Gross purses are near unchanged, and it has been able to survive.

But it won't be that way forever.

Racing's move to a betting sport where top line growth matters most, where margins are sliced, where delivery avenues are encouraged not shut out, where new ways to play the game are explored, where the data ecosystem is changed and modernized, where resellers are embraced, will, in my view, have to happen. But it won't be chosen as a strategy, it will be forced as one. At that time - like Sears - it might be too late.

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