Jack Welch, the former chairman and CEO of General Electric, is deservingly regarded as one of the top corporate executives of modern times.  Mr. Welch is an avid golfer and sports fan and likes to comment on them via Twitter.  After the 2015 Super Bowl, he tweeted:  “Product managers every day try to design a perfect product like NFL.”

How right he is.  Consider that the NFL has had a dreadful season in terms of public relations with, notably, the Ray Rice (Baltimore Ravens) domestic abuse travesty and the deflated-football brouhaha regarding the New England Patriots in the two weeks leading up to the Super Bowl.  There were also the usual reports during the regular football season of players being arrested for drug and alcohol violations, or testing positive in random tests conducted by the NFL.

Yet in spite of this torrent of negative publicity, the NFL culminated a superb season, from the standpoint of business metrics, with the Super Bowl garnering the highest television ratings of any program in history and 30-second ads selling for $4.5 million.

NFL football is fortunate in that it televises extremely well, better than any other sport.

The Kentucky Derby is typically American horse racing’s Super Bowl, with the Belmont Stakes getting the same kind of interest and television ratings whenever a Triple Crown is on the line.  The problem that showcase horse-racing telecasts have is how to interestingly fill time leading up to an event that lasts only slightly longer than an NFL timeout of one minute and 50 seconds.  In addition, the in-race action on the backside does not offer the same clarity as an NFL play.

Horse racing is by not by itself, as most sports other than football have viewing deficiencies on television.  For instance, television does not come close to conveying the speed and power of the cars in the Indianapolis 500 like being at the Brickyard does.

If you were a product manager, how would you redesign the horse-racing product and/or present it on television?


Speaking of the Kentucky Derby, following are two comprehensive and professionally done websites that provide almost everything one would want to know about the storied race, including history, purchasing tickets, fashion, betting, and trivia (neither are affiliated with Churchill Downs, Inc.): www.derbycraze.com and www.derbyexpert.com


On a completely unrelated note, last weekend I was enjoying a respite from the snow and cold at home in Ohio by sitting poolside at a hotel in Key West.  An entertainer for the hotel was playing his guitar and singing.  After one particular song, he said it reminded him of California Chrome, and he then spent a minute or so saying why he admired the colt.  This is anecdotal evidence that a charismatic racehorse is worth a lot in word-of-mouth public relations value.

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