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Technology Archive

What Racing Needs (Redux)

Blood-Horse editor Evan Hammonds:

In reality, racing really needs a few good programmers, a little infusion of investment in technology, and a lot more entrepreneurial spirit. If the sport of Thoroughbred racing is to survive as a viable enterprise, it’s not going to come from the daily churn or slots. It’s going to come from growing the sport online and through advance deposit wagering.

As I said in March 2008, racing needs:

More geeks, more technologists, more entrepreneurs, more people thinking deeply and creatively about programming, experience design, usability, prediction markets, social networks, mashups, content distribution.

Racing needs a start-up culture.

As true today as then. Is the industry ready to wake up?

Pre an Also-Ran

An apt use of racing terminology in an unrelated context: “An ‘also-ran’ is, literally, ‘a horse that does not win, place, or show in a race.’ The world loves an underdog but it never loves an also-ran. It forgets about an also-ran.”

Baseball Advances

… in online video this opening day:

While TV networks are still figuring out the best way to put last night’s sitcom online, MLB is about to stream a season of more than 2,000 live games in hi-definition with more features than any cable box.

Beyond pausing and rewinding live games as you can with a DVR, subscribers can watch up to four games at a time with “mosaic” picture-in-picture; select different audio channels, including synced-up radio commentary streams; and follow their favorite players (or fantasy team) as they play their games, including live video peeks.

I’m so envious. And high-quality, feature-rich streaming online video isn’t even all baseball fans can look forward to this season. According to MLB Advanced Media CEO Bob Bowman, MLB’s super At Bat iPhone app, which I’ve gushed about before, could gain live video streams this summer. “We would love to do live games on the iPhone,” Bowman told Silicon Alley Insider. “I think people would watch. A whole game? Probably not. But ten minutes?”

What other live sporting event might people watch for ten minutes or five on a mobile device? Maybe … a horse race?

Building the infrastructure to deliver such products, though, seems beyond the industry at this point. MLBAM began in 2000 with $75 million pooled by 30 clubs; in 2007, it brought in $450 million. (Proving, at least in one case, it’s possible to make money from content online.) It would take an unprecedented level of cooperation and investment from within racing to pull off a similar (if smaller-scaled accomplishment). Considering the difficulty the various factions and entities have had coming together to do something truly important, I expect no ambitious tech initiatives launching in the near future.

(Thanks for the Insider link alert, Pull the Pocket.)

The Next Web

“Turns out, that there is still huge unlocked potential, there is still a huge frustration that people have, because we haven’t got data on the web as data.”

In the TED talk embedded above, Tim Berners-Lee recalls inventing the WWW twenty years ago and observes that the web’s original purpose of linking documents together is evolving into one of linking data. (Think APIs, think of the potential for racing. Amazing, right? Try not to get too discouraged contemplating the current state of data distribution in the industry.)