Eques­trian sport boom­ing on our screens

Eques­trian com­pe­ti­tion is ben­e­fit­ing from growth in the num­ber of peo­ple watch­ing as it em­braces new tech­nol­ogy

Horse & Hound - - News Insider - By LUCY EL­DER

EQUES­TRIAN sport is en­joy­ing an up­swing in view­ers as it em­braces new tech­nol­ogy and on­line cov­er­age.

The Event Rid­ers Masters (ERM) se­ries re­ported a 235% in­crease in tele­vi­sion view­ers in a year, from 687,000 in 2017 to more than 2.3mil­lion in 2018. Over 100,000 hours of on­line video was also watched last year.

It cred­its part of the rise to new broad­cast deals in In­dia, China and the Far East, plus an in­crease in broad­cast hours from 965 to more than 1,300. ERM has its first real-time live tele­vi­sion broad­casts planned for 2019.

“The pres­ence of World and Olympic cham­pi­ons and their horses is key to our core of­fer­ing of world-class per­for­mance,” chief ex­ec­u­tive Jim O’Toole told H&H.

“Our on­go­ing com­mit­ment to ex­plor­ing in­no­va­tive meth­ods of both tele­vi­sion pro­duc­tion and dis­tri­bu­tion is pay­ing off.”

It is not just ERM en­joy­ing a

surge in view­ing sta­tis­tics.

ClipMyHorse.TV’s user base has been grow­ing an­nu­ally by 3050% and the com­pany pre­dicts it will have some 1.5m users by the end of 2018.

THE RIGHT AP­PROACH

PHILIPPA UNWAY of the com­pany said CHIO Aachen had the largest num­ber of view­ers this year, while the most-watched UK event was Horse of the Year Show.

“Eques­trian sport is a very in­di­vid­ual mar­ket that de­mands a very in­di­vid­ual ap­proach,” Ms Unway told H&H.

Ms Unway said the aim is to counter any de­cline in eques­trian sport cov­er­age in tra­di­tional me­dia such as tele­vi­sion, adding that re­duced cov­er­age would mean re­duced spon­sor in­ter­est.

“Fewer spon­sors will mean less of what we all love, eques­trian sport,” Ms Unway added. “Our goal is to counter this trend by of­fer­ing a cen­tral plat­form with world­wide vis­i­bil­ity.”

The web­site fea­tures a mix of free con­tent, around 80% of its cov­er­age, and paid-for ac­cess.

In 2018 it cov­ered 650 shows across Europe, the UK and US and is aim­ing to cover 1,100 per year in more coun­tries by 2022.

Hick­stead, which is broad­cast by out­lets in­clud­ing Hick­stead.TV and ClipMyHorse.TV, has also had a rise in on­line view­ers.

“We have seen strong de­mand for well-pro­duced con­tent across both Hick­stead’s in­ter­na­tional shows, with a grow­ing global au­di­ence this sea­son,” Hick­stead’s Vic­to­ria Goff told H&H.

“Es­tab­lished broad­caster ClipMyHorse.TV came on board this year, which gave us ac­cess to a much big­ger au­di­ence, with sig­nif­i­cant growth in stream­ing min­utes in par­tic­u­lar (up 87% from 2017). We had more than 1.1m page views on Hick­stead.TV alone in the past 12 months.”

At the FEI gen­eral as­sem­bly in Novem­ber, com­mer­cial di­rec­tor Ralph Straus gave a rosy view of the ris­ing de­mand for on­line videos and livestreams.

He said videos on the FEI YouTube chan­nel have close to nine mil­lion views, up from 5.5 mil­lion in 2017, and videos on the FEI’s Facebook pages have had a to­tal of close to 45 mil­lion views.

“For TV ex­po­sure, you’d need dou­ble the num­ber of chan­nels to get half the ex­po­sure you would have got five to 10 years ago,” said Mr Straus. “Al­though there’s a re­duc­tion in con­sump­tion of re­al­time con­tent, there’s still strong de­mand for live in-sports con­tent, as peo­ple want to ex­pe­ri­ence and see it as and where it hap­pens.”

More peo­ple are en­joy­ing watch­ing horse sport on­line

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