01/31/2011 3:13PM

Germany on the Ball TVwise


Apropos to last week's blog on the failure of American racing to sell itself to national TV networks comes news from Germany that the Direktorium, orkeerman Jockey Club, is preparing to make a big pitch to German TV networks.

As David Conolly-Smith reported in Monday's Racing Post, Direktorium president Albrecht Woeste conducted a press conference to discuss the decline of German racing last Thursday. The problems facing German racing are considerable. The country's keystone track, Baden-Baden, almost went out of business last year, losing its May meeting and only staying on its feet when a new buyer was found in time to save its prestigious late summer meeting. The track in Berlin- Hoppegarten- once as important to German racing as Longchamp is to French racing, has been through a series of ups and downs as the old East Germany has struggled to keep pace with the old West Germnany since reunification.

That the Germans can admit publicly that German racing is in decline is more than can be said for our Jockey Club, the NTRA or Breeders' Cup Ltd. Newly appointed Direktorium general manager Andreas Tiedtke summed up his plans by saying : "Our main aims are to make racing more attractive to racegoers, punters and sponsors and to improve the efficiency of racecourses by centralized marketing. We are trying to get German racing back on TV and hope to introduce a new and popular betting opprotunity."

The concept of "centralized marketing" is one that the American lords of racing should embrace. Unfortunately, there is very little that is centralized about American racing. There never has been, and as long as that situation endures, we will continue to lose ground to all other sports and all other forms of gambling.

It sounds like the Direktorium understands that racing is both a sport and a venue for gambling, as well as an event that makes for a great social occasion. While German racing is available in betting shops and subscribers to racing-only TV stations, there has been no national TV coverage in Germany since 2003. We wish the Direktorium the best of luck in its new initiative, and hope that our Jockey Club, the NTRA and all other concerned organizations pay close attention to their progress.