For the past couple of years, steeplechasing has live streamed races, but this year, users were charged, which probably everyone agreed was fair.
But a number of the live streams left a lot to be desired with some not coming through at all, others with no announcing, etc.
There was quite a bit of displeasure voiced, understandably, but there are a lot of difficulties involved in live streaming steeplechasing.
Alfred C. Griffin, Jr., President of the National Steeplechase Association, addressed these problem in an open letter.
Reading about these problems, fans are lucky to be getting these live streams.
For our many subscribers who are not members of NSA, these races are very exciting and well worth watching.
Go to the National Steeplechasing Association's website to join the live stream.
Follows the letter from Griffin.
THIS PAST spring I attended a great number of steeplechase race meets in person.
On those race days when I was not in attendance, or when two meets were running on the same day, I tuned in to the live stream to view those races.
Most of the time it worked. But sometime it didn’t, and that was very frustrating for me on several levels.
We have been live streaming NSA race meets for about three years now.
When we originally put out the RFP on this, we were faced with a number of bids, with a very wide cost variation, depending on the technical approach to providing video production in wide open fields, usually in the middle of nowhere from an internet standpoint.
The bids that were viable (with the kindness of a few steeplechase benefactors) involved“RF” technology, which utilizes radio frequency wireless transmission of the video signals from the remote cameras to a hub, where these signals are put together into a production.
Unfortunately RF video production can be inconsistent at times, with individual cameras momentarily losing signal or having diminished quality.
The uplink of the production from a field with no high speed broadband capability is also challenging.
Currently, this type of production costs the NSA approximately $12,500 per race meet.
The other alternative is to lay fiber optic cable for the cameras and this insures better and more dependable camera quality.
The cost of hard wired production is between $35,000 to $60,000 per meet. There are currently two race meets who pay the difference for this enhanced production capability in order to better serve their sponsors and on site show.
The NSA cannot afford the cost to produce hard wired satellite uplink production for all meets.
However, we are continuing to meet with the current production company to increase the quality and predictability of the RF signal and we seem to be making some progress there.
Currently, the only people who watch the live stream are our own.
Weekly viewership is made up of owners, trainers and others closely involved in Steeplechasing.
Last year the NSA hired a marketing firm to try to expand the livestream viewership by advertising across all social media platforms.
This significant advertising effort resulted in no increase in viewership. Informal polling suggested that, unless there are betting opportunities involved on these races, no one is going to view them, even for free.
The NSA is working on enhancing betting opportunities on Steeplechasing in America (currently, only three hunt meets have pari-mutuel wagering- The Virginia Gold Cup, The International Gold Cup and Far Hills), and our current live stream production would then be integral to the betting opportunities.
Until then, the utilization of the live stream only serves a very small number of vested individuals.
At $12,500 per meet, this is at a great cost to the NSA, and the decision to charge a minimal price for the viewing opportunity through Mandolin was an attempt to continue to provide this service to our constituency instead of abandoning the effort.
We are very grateful to our three live stream sponsors….Brown Advisory, the Charleston Post and Currier and the Virginia Equine Alliance, for their continued support.
I hope this brings some clarity to the live stream options, and as always, I would look forward to your input as we move forward.
With Best Regards,
Alfred C. Griffin, Jr.
National Steeplechase Association