Ogden Mills Phipps:
Thank you, Martin, we appreciate your time, and we wish you continued success at NYRA. Jason Wilson has been shepherding the implementation of recommendations from the 2011 McKinsey Study. Today he will update us on America’s Best Racing’s progress and the OwnerView project.
Thank you. Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Just two short years ago we launched our fan development and ownership encouragement efforts, and I’m here today to update you on the significant progress that our smart and dedicated team has made on both fronts.
24%, that is the number of people surveyed that believe that racing appeals to people of all ages, so we created America’s Best Racing in 2012 to address that perception. The strategy is to raise awareness of the sport with the so‑called Millennial generation and provide multiple paths of engagement. The following video captures the experience that we are promoting.
As I think that video clearly demonstrates, big events do resonate to a national audience and they’re very important for our fan development efforts as Martin Panza has just discussed.
Our website goes beyond the entries and results and provides a multi‑faceted look into the world of racing, presenting both the gambling and lifestyle angles suggested by that video. The website helps to bring a big day at the races alive to those who could not get to the racetrack.
In the past seven months we’ve seen substantial growth with users growing 144%, visits growing 102%, and pageviews growing 67% from the same time period in 2013. Significantly, 40% of our audience is female, and about 40% is less than 35 years old.
Now this generation of fans lives on digital and social media, and we’ve met them there. On Facebook we’ve created a vibrant community that’s doubled to about 50,000 people in the past seven months. Most weeks 20% of these members are interacting with us in some manner. To put that in perspective, a recent survey of Facebook pages across horse racing and other sports puts that level of engagement at less than 10%.
We also meet them in the real world through our brand ambassador program featuring America’s Best Racing promotional tool, or the ABRV. The brand ambassadors are based in the four most popular regions, New York, Miami, Los Angeles, and Chicago, and they’ve initiated programs to help bring influencers and young professionals to the tracks in the regions. In an era where print media continues to deemphasize horse racing, the communications team, a joint effort between us and the NTRA, helps develop stories and engage the mainstream media. They continue to add new outlets as well as deepen relationships with the outlets they have.
Now the other area for fan development is our investment in The Jockey Club Tour on FOX. Last year Michael Mulvihill, the senior vice president for FOX, introduced us to FOX’s newest channel, FOX Sports 1, which launched 51 weeks ago today. He provided his vision for the series. As Mike said, we must “look at TV coverage as a means to a larger goal. As an ongoing promotional vehicle that inspires passive viewers to become active players who will contribute to growth and handle. That has to be our mission.”
So we set out to build a series that not only brought some of the finest races to the small screen and mobile devices, but also, as Mike put it, balance the entertainment with a sugar‑coated pill of education. The core team of Greg Wolf, Richard Migliore, Simon Bray, Andy Serling, and Alyssa Ali is obviously enjoying their days at the races and have given us unique insights into racing from several angles.
We’re gratified to receive messages such as a tweet from the veteran journalist Steve Haskin after the United Nations Stakes telecast that, “It was one of the most informative, entertaining racing telecasts I’ve ever seen. Great features, interviews, camera work, and yes analysis. Great handicapping on top of that. I also love that you had something for everyone. Crammed a lot in.”
One thing that Steve touched upon in that tweet is very important. He mentioned the great handicapping. The shows have embraced handicapping through the America’s Best Racing Betting Challenge, which has not shied away from letting people know that you can bet online, and we know from our ADW sponsors that people are signing up. The ability to more directly connect viewers to the economic engine of our sport is a very important development.
Mike Mulvihill also outlined the opportunity that he sees for racing and that we share. He cited the statistic that 90% of the audience that tunes into the Triple Crown and Breeders’ Cup does not tune into other horse racing programming. In contrast, for football only 15% of Super Bowl viewers do not watch other football programming. We must work to get some of those folks to become regular viewers.
To recap the series, there were 10 shows that have run live on FOX Sports 1, FOX Deportes, and FOX Sports Go, and replayed at least twice on FOX Sports 1, and FOX Sports 2 in the weeks following the show. These shows are also broadcast live in the Middle East through a distribution arrangement of FOX Sports, and so far this year we’ve reached an audience of 1.8 million people.
This year the Breeders’ Cup announced to include 10 shows on NBC and NBC Sports Network featuring our challenge series of races. As a result of these efforts, the sport will have continuous representation on television from July 20 through Labor Day, followed by big days in September from Belmont and Santa Anita and October from Keeneland before finishing the year with the Breeders’ Cup World Championships. We are working with the Breeders’ Cup to make sure we take advantage of this opportunity to continue to engage the 45‑plus million people who tuned in to watch the Triple Crown this year.
If you will recall, at the time that we commissioned the McKinsey study in February of 2011 there were only four telecasts scheduled outside the major events, and ESPN just announced they were not going to renew the Belmont Stakes. The 30 hours of coverage that the Jockey Club and Breeders’ Cup have committed to as well as the preparations for the Triple Crown shown by NBC Sports Network earlier this year represent a 400% increase in the amount of coverage we’ve had since we started the McKinsey study. And so far this year, the programming has reached a total audience of 4.6 million people.
As you can see from the metrics behind me, we have positive momentum on the fan development front that we’ll continue to build upon.
Turning to encouraging ownership, The Jockey Club and Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association launched owner view in 2012 in response to the McKinsey finding that current and perspective owners have a desire for more information. They cited a survey where over 70% of owners thought they lacked reliable information about trainers and thought that was a big problem, and nearly 50% said they found it very hard to find relevant information when they first became owners.
At the time they received information from a variety of sources but none provided a complete picture.
OwnerView is a comprehensive resource where owners and those interested in ownership can find a wealth of free information about ownership options, licensing requirements, state incentive programs, racetracks and aftercare programs as well as detailed information on trainers.
The OwnerView website has received a significant amount of support throughout the industry with more than 120 industry organizations promoting the website through digital and social media, print advertisement, and commentary. Since its inception, 160,000 people have visited the site and accessed more than 1 million pages of content.
Riding on this support, we recognize that OwnerView should be more than just a website and could evolve into a broader ownership recruitment and support effort. So this year we created the first national ownership conference to be held in October at Keeneland. We approached Keeneland, NYRA, the Stronach Group, and Del Mar to determine their interest in the concept. They were not only interested, but these four track organizations have come on as presenting sponsors of the conference. They lead a growing list of supporters from across the industry that recognize the importance of encouraging ownership and of this event.
OwnerView takes a pro‑active approach to Thoroughbred ownership. Beyond the website and ownership conference, the staff at ownership communicates with owners and conducts research that could be beneficial both to owners and prospective owners. This follows from our core belief that good data and good research leads to good decisions.
With that, we commissioned a study by the Matrix Group to look at the annual cost of keeping a Thoroughbred horse in training. Here are the headline numbers. The average of such expenses across the country is little more than $40,000 a year. This varies from a low of $25,000 in the mountain region to a high of $50,000 here in the northeast. I caution you these are averages, and individual results could vary based on a number of factors, but this provides a baseline level of expense for keeping a Thoroughbred horse in training.
A summary of the study that includes methodologies and more in‑depth information into each of the cost components broken down by region is contained in the materials and will also be available on the OwnerView website.
OwnerView will continue to undertake new research and share findings and other information as it becomes available.
Now, I would not be a good marketer if I did not take this opportunity for two shameless plugs. First, I encourage you all to attend the ownership conference at Keeneland October 13 through 16.
As the video says, you can sign up at the OwnerView website, and to show our appreciation, if you do so by Friday, you’ll receive an iPad Mini preloaded with valuable information.
The second shameless plug, I encourage each of you to watch the Saratoga special on FOX Sports 1 today at 5 p.m.
Chris Kay tells me it’s Channel 41 on the NYRA network for those at the track.
I told you they were shameless. Thank you for all your time this morning, and have a fantastic day.