Just because Breeders’ Cup fans may be following this year's World Championships from home doesn't mean they won't have the opportunity to plant themselves in the thick of this year's event.
Added livestreaming from a variety of platforms will aim to put fans in the paddock, through use of a 360-degree camera; in the winner's circle, with views of post-race celebrations; and in a virtual pressbox in the days leading up to the races Nov. 3-4 at Del Mar, with coverage of pre-entries, entries, and workouts.
"Our goal is to use technology to bring fans at home into the on-track experience as much as possible, and really deepen their engagement with the event and our brand," said Justin McDonald, vice president of marketing at Breeders' Cup.
To that end Breeders' Cup will ramp up its livestreaming this year, with many hours of coverage planned on Facebook Live, Periscope (Twitter's livestreaming app), as well as the redesigned Breeders' Cup site and a new app, and through NBC platforms.
"We're real excited about livestreaming," McDonald said. "We're going to be providing the most livestreaming that we've ever done, across all digital platforms. We're trying to pull all of the highlights out, so that people who can't be there can really experience it."
Breeders' Cup aims to take advantage of the broad reach of Facebook. The Breeders' Cup Facebook page has more than 216,000 fans. In what McDonald called more of an exploratory venture into livestreaming last year, Breeders' Cup reached more than 2.3 million people.
"We're confident this year that we're going to double those numbers, if not more, because we’ll have a lot of different content out there for a longer period of time," McDonald said.
When Breeders' Cup reaches out to fans this year through television, web sites, a new app, several social media platforms, and livestreaming through those platforms, it not only will be offering fans a number of options, but those options will be tailor-made to followers who frequent each platform. Shona Rosenblum of Grand Slam Social, which is working with Breeders' Cup in coordinating this coverage, said there will be specific content and presentations to each site.
"What we've learned is our community on Facebook is more of the core fan, as we've learned from a lot of the comments. So on Facebook we really want to show them everything that they need in order to participate in the day," Rosenblum said.
She said Periscope and Twitter users are broader sports fans or interested in horses and animals.
"(For that audience) we're going to be focusing on some of those behind-the-scenes moments and more of the stories about the horses, and really taking our social media reporter (Megan Devine) out there to try to dig up those stories and go behind the scenes leading up to Breeders' Cup," Rosenblum said.
In shaping social media Breeders' Cup coverage, Grand Slam Social has examined the users on each site and has met with content providers like NBC, America’s Best Racing, Del Mar, and Breeders' Cup.
"We try to understand that the same content doesn't belong everywhere, so we tried to look at our stats and determine what these people really want to see on these days," Rosenblum said.
Both Rosenblum and McDonald noted that many features, like the 360-degree paddock camera that will be available on the new mobile app and Facebook Live, will serve as complementary coverage for viewers watching the races on NBC and NBCSN.
"They can hop onto that stream and it will be like they're right there looking at horses heading out to the track," McDonald said. "That is a really good second-screen experience as you're watching the races on NBC."
NBC Sports will offer streaming coverage on its app as well.
"NBC is very supportive, and we have a great relationship with them," McDonald said. "We work together to push fans to the right place."
The official Breeders' Cup mobile app for iOS and Android devices, developed by YinzCam, features real-time updates and details on the 2017 event, including information on all 13 championship races, participating horses, and official results. Additionally, the user-friendly interface will prove handy for those planning to attend the event with ticket information, seating and walking maps, and the official event program. Other notable features include parking and transportation information, directions to Del Mar, and a seamless Uber integration to help fans plan their trip to and from the track.
In conjunction with the launch of the mobile app, Breeders' Cup's redesigned website offers an enhanced user experience and visual appeal. The new Breeders' Cup website was developed by CTP Boston.
The new website and mobile app will offer livestreams of official Breeders' Cup events, including the pre-entry announcement show Oct. 25, morning workouts starting Oct. 26, the post-position draw Oct. 30, and the Breeders' Cup Player's Show Nov. 3-4, which will offer all 13 championship races live.
"After significant research and development, we are excited to launch the official Breeders' Cup app and our refreshed website," McDonald said. "We strive to provide our fans with the most seamless and elevated experience possible across all platforms. Through our new app and website, fans both near and far can experience the Breeders' Cup with the touch of a button, whether they are researching the world-class horses competing in our event or watching one of our livestreams at home."