Equestrian sport booming on our screens
Equestrian competition is benefiting from growth in the number of people watching as it embraces new technology
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