TWO EXAMPLES OF HOW TO BOOST HORSE RACING’S POPULARITY

Two recent epic events from the sports world provide instructive examples for enhancing the appeal of horse racing.

The United States’ 2014 World Cup soccer matches against Portugal and Belgium drew U. S. television audiences of 24.7 and 21.5 million, respectively, and Nielsen figures do not include viewers in public places.

A major reason why soccer is gaining strength in the United States as a spectator sport is the changing demographics of the country; many of the 40 million foreign-born residents hail from nations in which soccer is the dominant spectator sport.  Racetracks and auction companies have the same kind of ever-expanding opportunity to craft marketing initiatives specifically for immigrants who come from nations in which horse racing is popular, primarily in parts of Asia and Latin America.

Another example pertains to the value of a megastar. When the National Basketball Association’s LeBron James announced that he would leave the Miami Heat to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers, the electronic media and social media exploded with activity; James’ essay on SI.com was the most viewed post in the website’s history and the Miami Heat lost 300,000 Twitter followers.

Similarly, due to California Chrome and his colorful connections, and intense promotion by NBC-TV, horse racing in 2014 received a lot more attention than is normal. The Belmont telecast averaged 20.6 million viewers, which handily topped the number of people who watched the primetime final games of the 2013 World Series (19.2 million) and the 2014 NBA championship (17.9 million).

While horse racing cannot manufacture a charismatic animal, it can make the most of the fortuitous break when it gets one.  Monmouth Park and NBC, for example, skillfully leveraged the buzz surrounding the filly Untappable’s entry in the July 27 William Hill Haskell Invitational.  A race with an equine star can be capitalized on and turned into an event.

Copyright © 2014 Blood-Horse Publications.  Used with permission.

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