03/27/2002 12:00AM

TVG to get makeover in on-screen design


NEW YORK - Television Games Network is preparing to launch a complete redesign of its television product in order to deliver more gambling information to its viewers.

Taking cues from the recent design changes at popular cable networks such as MSNBC and Headline News - and answering the complaints of many hard-core gamblers - the redesign will incorporate two tickers at the bottom of the screen, move current-odds and will-pay charts to boxes on the right side of the screen, and greatly condense the displayed information.

The redesign will be launched as early as April 5, opening day of the popular Keeneland meet, said Tony Allevato, executive producer at TVG, on Wednesday. At the latest, the redesign will take effect April 10, Allevato said.

TVG officials said the launch will also coincide with TVG's debut within the next two weeks in the Los Angeles area on the Adelphia cable system, expanding TVG's reach by 350,000 homes, mostly in upscale neighborhoods.

TVG, which is already available over cable systems in Baltimore and two Kentucky cities - Lexington and Louisville - and over the Dish Network satellite service, has been criticized over the past several years by many horseplayers for displaying too little betting information.

The network currently displays only the current odds of the race it is broadcasting along with two vertical will-pay scrolls, akin to the presentations of a typical racetrack simulcast feed. TVG shows anywhere from eight to 12 live races an hour.

The two new tickers will add a crawl updating the latest prices from TVG partner tracks and a scroll displaying current odds for upcoming races. To the right, two boxes will display current odds and will-pays on exacta, daily doubles, and other exotic bets for the race being broadcast. Those boxes will also provide updates on track conditions, weather, and other statistics, according to Jennifer Sit, TVG's coordinating producer.

"It's a bit overwhelming at first, but that's good," said Allevato. TVG provided Daily Racing Form with a videotape incorporating the new graphics redesign.

The redesign will be launched just as TVG begins a critical campaign to grab market share across the country and especially in California, where account wagering was legalized earlier this year. The network, which has lost $100 million over the past three years, has been shut out of many popular racing signals this winter, including Gulfstream and Santa Anita, but its signals in the spring, summer, and fall include Hollywood Park, Del Mar, Belmont, Saratoga, Keeneland, Churchill Downs, and Arlington, the most popular tracks in the country, among others.

Allevato said the ideas for the redesign emerged from internal meetings and comments that the network received from customers. The changes were made to strike a balance between the needs of advanced horseplayers and beginners, Allevato said.

"I think we have been able to find a happy medium," Allevato said.