TV Games Network rolled out new graphics and features, which began appearing in conjunction with the opening of Hollywood Park's spring/summer season, at the April 22 California Horse Racing Board meeting. It also announced an increase in the number of viewers and a slight shift toward experienced racing fans.
Ryan O'Hara, the network's new chief operating officer, presented an update on television coverage to the board, as well as figures on the growth of TVG throughout the state and nation. In a six-minute video, O‚Hara showcased the enhancements, including better on-screen graphics, profiles of racing's stars, and explanations of terms and practices in horse racing designed to give viewers a better understanding of the sport.
"(TVG) invested more money than ever because the TV viewer expects more than ever," O'Hara said. "It's a combination of a great product and investing properly."
O'Hara said TVG's audience increased by more than 50% over the last 16 months, from eight million homes to 12 million homes, and that he expects "the same kind of growth going forward" as the product continues to improve. Previously, TVG focused heavily on gaining viewers outside of horseracing but will now "shift a few degrees toward hard-core sports and horse-racing fans."
O'Hara said TVG is continuously negotiating with various cable companies to lower the tier of access so the network can be part of basic cable packages at no additional cost.
In other business, the board renewed the license of Youbet.com to conduct advance deposit wagering in California but shortened the term of the license to the end of this year so the company's licensing period will be expire at the same time as the two other account-wagering operators in the state.
Jockey Paul Atkinson reported on efforts by the California Jockeys' Committee to obtain better health insurance for the state's riders. He said the committee is negotiating with several companies to provide improvements to the riders‚ health care plans and that they're "making progress and moving forward."
Under state law, all money from uncollected pari-mutuel refunds can be used to pay for the jockeys' health insurance. Last year, $1 million from uncashed tickets went into the fund.
The board also presented a resolution to former member Alan Landsburg, whose four-year term expired earlier this year, in appreciation of his service on the board and for his commitment to the horse-racing industry. The resolution also acknowledged his contributions as a writer, director, and producer in television and motion pictures.
Board chairman John Harris described Landsburg as a man of "great vision." In accepting the resolution, Landsburg said that as a newly appointed interim director of the Thoroughbred Owners of California, he would continue working to help improve the industry.