Not long after the Kentucky Derby, I was putting together a post about jockey John Velazquez, and, in search of embeddable video of the race, I went to YouTube, expecting to find an official version made available by NBC, by Churchill Downs, or by the NTRA.
In some ways, I’ve gotten spoiled: the NTRA, Breeders’ Cup, and NYRA all have YouTube channels, and in most cases, I can find an authorized version of stakes races to embed. For reasons of both ethics and quality (the authorized versions generally look and sound better), where possible, I like to use versions of the race provided by the organizations responsible for producing it.
Imagine then, my surprise and dismay when I discovered that the only videos of this year’s Derby on YouTube were from viewers and users, not from anyone actually involved in producing the event.
An inquiry to Churchill Downs yielded the suggestion that the NBC contract precluded the track from uploading the video (though CDI did upload the 2009 Derby, complete with peacock logo); an NBC representative told me that the network doesn’t upload its sporting events to Youtube because it wants to maximize traffic to its own website. NBC did provide me with the code to embed the official version, which began with a brief ad.
While I can understand the desire to drive traffic to one’s own website (guilty here as charged), keeping race replays at the NBC site instead of on YouTube seems to me like an incredible missed opportunity, given the burgeoning relationship between racing, NBC, and Versus. Let’s face it: no matter how high-profile NBC is, when people want race replays, they’re going to to go to YouTube, not to the network site.
For several reasons, I hope that NBC/Versus will take advantage of its new role in broadcasting racing and create a YouTube channel dedicated to the sport, with clear benefits to both the consumer and the producer.
Arguably, having a presence on YouTube will bring more eyeballs to NBC coverage than keeping the races on NBC.com: when you search on YouTube for “2011 Kentucky Derby,” the authorized, NBC version should be the first to appear. When I search YouTube for “2009 Breeders’ Cup Classic,” the BCWorldChampionships version heads the list. When I search for “2010 Travers Stakes,” I first see the NYRA video.
But when I search YouTube for “2011 Kentucky Derby”…I get nothing from anyone who had a hand is producing the event or broadcast. And because other, unauthorized versions of the race do appear, no one’s going to say, “Hm, well, the official NBC version isn’t here…let me trot over to NBC.com and see if it’s there.” Viewers will watch or embed the unauthorized version that’s there and carry on their merry way.
If I skip YouTube and type into a search engine, “video 2011 Kentucky Derby,” NBC doesn’t even make the first page, while unauthorized YouTube versions of the race do.
Last night, I went to NBC.com to try to find the video of this year’s Derby. After trying a variety of paths (going to the video page, going to the sports page, typing into the search engine)…nothing. Even those of us who want to go to NBC.com to watch a race replay cannot, it seems, easily do so.
With exclusive rights to the Triple Crown races and this year’s Saratoga meet, NBC/Versus has a terrific opportunity to create a profile and presence that will link racing to its brand, and vice versa (vice Versus?). If revenue is a priority, I’m happy to give up a few seconds to watch an ad if it means that I can watch a better quality, authorized version of the race.
In many ways, I’m about as old media as they come: I care about copyright and about remunerating the creators and producers of an event and a broadcast. I also care about being easily able to share racing clips and to watch replays of important races. I’m eager to see NBC and Versus step forward and create a relationship with YouTube. The company is already willingly giving away its product and making it available for dissemination; I hope that it will go one step further and put that product in a place where people where will see the race and will see NBC’s brand, instead of hiding it in the hope of driving traffic to its site.