By John Piassek
Wednesday, March 21, 2016
On the surface, the recently unveiled Meadowlands video package seems like a great idea. Partnering with the Racetrack Television Network (RTN), the big M will be offering HD streaming of live racing, along with HD race replays. What could be wrong with that?
Well, here’s the catch: the service is only free until May 11th. After that, it’ll cost $5 a month for access to the Meadowlands racing, and $10 a month for all harness racing in the United States and Canada. For those without a calculator handy, that’s about $20 a month for the rest of the Meadowlands season, and $45 for the 2016-2017 harness season (assuming the plan stays in place).
The idea of charging customers a fee just to watch racing from a track is, at best, completely preposterous. Especially when a customer with an ADW account can watch for free, or drive out to the Meadowlands (assuming they live in the area) and not pay anything for parking and admission, it’s ridiculous to make people pay to watch racing from home. Their New Jersey counterpart, Monmouth Park, lets people do the same thing for free. NYRA offers free HD replays of all their races on their website. It’s not difficult to allow fans to watch racing for free. The reaction so far from bettors has not been positive. One Twitter poll showed 94% of the respondents were opposed to the idea of paying for live video.
Of course, some people may say: what’s the difference? As you said, people can just watch on their ADW, or on TVG, or somewhere else? And even so, it’s only $45 for the Meadowlands meet, and $120 a year to watch harness racing in HD from all over the country. It’s not a big deal!
The main concern that I have here is not the amount that they’re charging, it’s the principle, and the fear that other tracks will adopt it. I’ve long felt that having free live video of the racing on the website is one of the most customer-friendly things that a track can do. If enough people buy the Meadowlands package, what’s to stop other tracks from doing the same thing? That would lead to more racing hidden behind a paywall, and more money out of the bettor’s pockets as they pay for the HD video.
Of all the things in racing that should be free, live video should be at the top of the list. Racing going to HD is something that can be a huge benefit, but charging money for it would turn it into a liability for bettors, rather than an asset.
John Piassek is a student at Loyola University in Maryland. He prides himself as a supporter of racing in New Jersey and Maryland. John is an aspiring race track announcer, marketer and writer. His “Mid-Atlantic Musings” column on DanonymousRacing.com focuses mostly on NJ and MD racing, ways to market them, how the states can improve their racing, and how racing should start focusing on bettor-centric marketing.
You can follow John on Twitter @Theyreoff.