- It's kinda funny that TVG Senior VP David Nathanson's column defending his network's exclusivity contracts appeared just a couple of days before we learn that their negotiations with Churchill Downs have broken down. Churchill is miffed over TVG's involvement in piping its races to the UK, in competition with a joint venture the company has with Magna, and it doesn't take a genius to see a future for the company's tracks on Magna-owned HRTV. TVG claims that it's strictly a business decision on their part:
“Nearing the end of a 10-year relationship with CDI, we were seeing continued growth in our television distribution and account wagering handle, as CDI continued to divest of racetrack properties, diminishing its importance to our business,” said David Nathanson...in a statement released by his company.Oh c'mon man, don't feed us that fucking crap. TVG is already an endangered species during the winter without Gulfstream, Santa Anita or Oaklawn - so much so that the harness racing from the Meadowlands seems to have become the centerpiece of their broadcasts. What will they do without Fair Grounds and Calder? Sign an exclusive with Freehold and extend Drive Time into the afternoon? And without Churchill Downs itself, the only thing that's diminished is TVG itself. Talk about spin, this stuff is spinning so fast it makes the sulky wheels look stationary.
Over the past two years, CDI has sold, or announced pending transactions to sell Hollywood Park, Hoosier Park and Ellis Park. According to the TVG, the share of wagering by its subscribers on CDI’s owned tracks plunged from over 30% of TVG’s total wagering to less than 13%, including wagering on Kentucky Derby day. [Bloodhorse]
Nathanson writes in his re-edited Bloodhorse column (original column here via Google cache):
The purpose of exclusivity is not to gain an advantage over ADW competitors (as evidenced by TVG’s sub-licensing wagering rights to multiple ADW providers). The purpose of exclusivity is to secure for racing a viable and financially feasible long-term national television presence, and the resulting marketing benefits.But of course it's to gain an advantage, specifically with respect to HRTV, with whom it competes for space on cable and satellite, as Nathanson himself acknowledges:
The ability of a programmer to provide exclusive content and high quality production values are prerequisites just to get in the door and absolutely necessary to broaden distribution.And Nathanson is being just plain dishonest when he writes: TVG currently reaches more than 20 million U.S. homes in all 50 states via all the major cable and satellite providers. Tell that to those in the NYC area that have Time Warner Cable. (And isn't it strange that the purged version of the column contains a more accurate characterization, that it's carried by various cable and satellite providers!)
Of course, it's not TVG's fault that all of the providers don't carry both they and HRTV, and that, therefore, some viewers lose out depending on where they live and which service they subscribe to. We understand that this is business, and that they're not going to give their products away just to make us all happy. But don't talk to us as if we're as ignorant. Leave that for Racing 101.