Few Converts From TV

There has been a decent debate on one of the racing forums in recent days about coverage of racing on terrestrial television. In particular Channel Four’s coverage on Saturday afternoon.

The gist of some of the complaints is the standard of coverage, coupled with the BBC’s reduction of racing coverage, will not attract new followers to the sport.

I would contend no matter how slick the presentation is on television, very few new racegoers will be attracted via the medium, unlike in the “good old days” when many of my generation found the sport via television.

The trouble is society has changed.

I certainly got my love of racing from watching it on television on Saturday afternoons, in black and white as well. With “The Voice” on BBC and Tony Cook on ITV - along with John Rickman, Clive Graham et al. Initially though I watched it not out of choice but because there was little else to do as an alternative.

In those days there was little competition for the leisure time – people didn’t go out much at weekends, most families didn’t even have cars – we never had one.  

There were only two television channels for goodness sake and both of those had sport on Saturday afternoons – probably racing on both channels at the same time – a monopoly.

Nowadays there are so many other attractions – it is only events like the Grand National and, to a lesser extent, The Derby and Royal Ascot that will probably attract the casual viewer. 

Nowadays I think it will be more luck than anything else if somebody is converted to the sport via television – the two opportunities we have are the National because it is so popular and possibly Royal Ascot where we may just catch a few of those tuning in to watch the fashions.

So, although it grieves me to say it, no matter how slick the presentation - I don’t think terrestrial coverage in 2010 will draw in as many newcomers to the sport as we need – which is why, heaven help us, Racing For Change is going to be so critical to the future of our sport.


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