- It was early Friday evening, Santa Anita was open, but not, of course, on TVG, and they had the skeleton crew on hand. John Lies was doing solo duty, and I saw him on Thursday night too. Perhaps he's been chained to the desk. Lies' career is certainly on the upswing. He's been the track announcer at Lone Star since 2005, and I met him at Saratoga two summers ago when he was reporting for the Saratoga Special. Since then, I saw him hosting Del Mar's simulcast show this past summer, and now he's a talking head on TVG.
John seemed like a nice guy, and he's certainly knowledgeable, and I'm sure he'll be a fine addition on the network, though it seems as if he's still getting comfortable. It can't be an easy gig. Think of all the bad music you hear on Monday and Tuesday nights and imagine someone having to talk through all that time. Besides, I don't think that the TVG announcer training program has kicked in yet. You see guys like Iggy Puglisi and Nick Hines, who were informative yet a bit crude on the air at first, but in a matter of months they had a whole new presence, as if they'd been doing it all their lives. They spoke confidently, stared assuringly out at the viewing audience with their bodies otherwise turned at a slight angle. All very professional and polished. They each have some great tape to send out to prospective employers should their current endeavors not work out.
I imagine that it wasn't a great day at the network with the announcement that their NYRA coverage has been un-exclusived, and they will have to share the wealth with HRTV. It could get a little crowded on the clubhouse turn at Saratoga next year. In addition, wagering on the races has been offered to other platforms, as was the case in New Jersey; and deals have been concluded with the TrackNet outlets and Youbet. TVG's David Nathanson, putting the best face on the situation, said:
"Our investment in the best-of-breed wagering platforms, highest quality television production, and unmatched television distribution will continue to set TVG apart from others in the marketplace and [blah blah blah]." [Thoroughbred Times]TVG certainly has the 'professional and polished' thing going on with their public relations as well. What they need, particularly during the winter months, is some more compelling content. If HRTV ever gets the Direct TV deal that there was recent speculation about, then TVG will lose what remains their greatest advantage - higher distribution. We'd see then how Nathanson would spin that.