Driving Sustainable Growth: A Progress Report
Jason Wilson Jason Wilson - Vice President of Business Development, The Jockey Club

Ogden Mills Phipps: Two years ago, Dan Singer and Mike Lamb of McKinsey, presented the highlights of their comprehensive economic study of our sport. At that time, The Jockey Club pledged to implement many of these recommendations.

Jason Wilson, our Vice President of Business Development, has been leading that effort on many fronts, including television programming and America's Best Racing platform. You probably saw our brand ambassadors this morning out by the America's Best Racing bus. We're going to get that update now. Jason ....

Jason Wilson: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and good morning, ladies and gentlemen. From this stage two years ago, representatives from the prominent management consulting firm, McKinsey and Company provided an overview of our sport and made some recommendations to help it grow. McKinsey identified several strengths upon which we can build, but they also noted that we face obstacles, some of which are self generated.

First, we face increasing competition from other forms of entertainment. Second, we have experienced a decline in brand perception as less than 15% of people surveyed felt the sport was for people like me. Third, there is a dilution of the best racing because of smaller fields and overlapping scheduling. Fourth, the live fan experience is simply not comparable with other sports, and fifth, our product is not fully distributed as it could be.

To address these issues McKinsey suggested nine areas where the sport should focus in the coming years. In their view, success would be reversing the 4% annual fan attrition that we experience and arresting the decline in handle by 2016. It is still early in the process, but we're making progress.

Today, I wanted to give you a sense of where we are, and share some metrics around fan development that I think you will find encouraging. Before I begin, I would like to point out there that are many efforts across the sport in line with these recommendations. I'll mention a few, but we acknowledge and support those products that are comparable and complementary to our own.

As a threshold issue, it is difficult for people to follow the sport when we have overlapping racing. In 2010, there were 102 Graded Stakes races that were run within 15 minutes of another Graded Stakes race. Anecdotally, we know this is still a problem, as just last month, the Delaware Oaks went off just six minutes before the Stars and Stripes at Arlington.

To address this issue, InCompass Solutions issued a scheduling tool to provide tracks additional information to set their race cards. Indeed, since we raised this issue in 2011 and quantified the impact it has on the overlapped races, which can be as high as 10% on reduction in handle, our overlapped races have decreased 40%; however, there is much work to be done in this area.

Now last year I introduced a new brand that we created to house our fan development efforts called America's Best Racing. America's Best Racing is a multi media platform geared toward new and casual fans specifically in the 18 to 35 range, the so called millennial generation. Introducing this demographic to racing and developing ways to migrate them along the path to becoming life long fans is a project that will foster long term growth.

The America's Best Racing platform includes four distinct areas: First, there is communications. NTRA Communications, a joint effort funded between The Jockey Club and the NTRA and located in The Jockey Club's New York offices, continues to enjoy success in pitching our stories about our personalities and our events to the mainstream media. Some of those outlets they interact with are listed here.

But their activities go beyond pitching feature stories. NTRA Communication helps local and national mainstream news organizations with their coverage of the sport, often providing ready made content for those groups to use, whether it is print, video or pictures. Over the course of the past 12 months, they've initiated content sharing arrangements with many of these news and entertainment outlets.

Second is digital and social media. The America's Best Racing website, found at followhorseracing.com, features content that showcases the multi dimensional aspects of our sport and provides points of engagement for our fans. In the 16 months since its launch, over 1 million visitors to the site have accessed almost 4 million pages of content.

And speaking of points of engagement, free, fun to play games are an important tool of interacting with casual fans. We have encouraged with the evolution of the sport's free to play gaming options. In the past two years, we've launched Thoroughbred World and Major League Horse Racing. And both Breeders' Cup and Churchill Downs launched games around their signature events, and Blazing Silks and My Fantasy Stables were introduced, and an existing game, Horse Racing Fantasy received a makeover.

We are looking to promote and distribute some of these games on our website and across our platform in the coming years. In addition, in the next month we'll introduce a smaller app called Lil' Horses based on a popular mobile game.

Third, and new this year, is our promotional Tour dubbed the AVRV. The tour began in March, and will continue through the Breeders' Cup. If you somehow missed it on the way in, it will go to Chicago for the Arlington Million on its way to Southern California from late August through November for the Breeders' Cup. The tour is designed as a grass roots peer to peer marketing platform that will help our sport connect with the a younger demographic in their markets. Let's take a look at a promotional video for the tour.

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We are very lucky to have those six young people, and they are doing a wonderful job so far. The tour has logged over 7,000 miles and has been seen by more than one million people. Through the Triple Crown season, our brand ambassadors have attracted more than 42,000 Twitter followers and reached an audience of more than 22 million through Twitter. Perhaps most impressive, the tour has attracted broad interests gaining coverage in both national and local media outlets.

Finally, the fourth area is television. We are very enthusiastic about the national racing coverage that we've been able to secure over the past two years. Prior to the announcements of Summer At Saratoga, there were only 35 hours of television scheduled for 2011. Because of a concerted effort by us and others, we project there will be at least 70 hours in 2014, with The Jockey Club supported coverage going from 5.5 hours this year to over 20 hours next year.

I thank the tracks and others in the sport who worked hard to make this happen.

But our efforts have gone beyond racing coverage. We also encourage alternative programming concepts such as reality shows. Again, we are glad to see similar efforts by others in the industry in this area. In the coming 12 months, there are several shows that will debut and there are others that are in development.

Horse Players, a show that was developed in connection with the NTRA's National Handicapping Championship, will feature handicappers trying to make the big score and will air on NBC's Esquire Network. Stable Wars will feature ownership groups in Southern California and has been picked up by FOX Sports San Diego.

Turning back to racing coverage, in 2012 and 2013, we presented a total of 15 races on the networks of the NBC Sports Group and provided an early introduction to the top contenders of the Triple Crown. Year over year our television production is trending in the right direction. Overall the audience increased by 1.6 million in 2012 to 1.8 million with most of that growth occurring on NBC's Sports Network. In fact, we were able to grow that audience by about 20%, and we're looking to continue that growth for 2014.

Earlier this week, we announced a new series for older horses that will air on the new FOX Sports 1, a cable sports network launching this Saturday in 90 million homes. As many of you are aware, FOX Sports has been willing to provide new and interesting ways to look at many sports with a focus on engaging a younger demographic. This coverage will complement NBC's coverage of the Triple Crown and Breeders Cup and provide a fresh style of television production for horse racing.

During the course of our research with McKinsey, we interviewed over 100 people. And one of those people was David Hill, the visionary master builder of FOX Sports. Over the months following that interview, we met and got to know one of his senior lieutenants Mike Mulvihill.

He's played key roles in bringing television rights for the NFL, Major League Baseball, and the FIFA World Cup in 2018 to FOX Sports. But more importantly, he's been a racing fan for the past 20 years. We are very much looking forward to creating this product and in developing this property with Mike and his team. You're going to hear from him after this short video. Thank you.

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