By Hans Ebert
It was one of those rare- and often, Old Mother Hubbard’s bare cupboard- an all weather race meeting- at night and at Sha Tin- on a Wednesday. Yesterday. Golly gosh, Gee, I don’t know. Remember yesterday?
Those of us who live in Hong Kong, well, most of us, know what this means- eight races that one can either take or leave and, unlike a Happy Wednesday at Happy Valley racecourse, something that, especially on bilingual Channel 668 on NOW TV, takes one back to living with the folks and watching programmes like “Highway Patrol”, “Laramie”, “Bonanza”, Mrs Steed and when Roger Moore starred as Ivanhoe.
Roger Moore who was Simon Templar before becoming James Bond passed away quite recently. In other words, there’s always something nostalgic and extremely old fashioned about the eight races that go on for about four hours. Golly gee, gosh.
One can go out for dinner, return and perhaps catch the last couple of races. Or watch all eight races on that Channel 668 with the sound off.
Either that or practice Tantric Yoga with Sting playing in the background. Whatever gets you through the night is alright. Maybe.
Of course, thousands show up to these races. Apart from owners who have their horses running in the lower classes along with those who live in the New Territories- mainly described as “horse racing uncles and aunties”. Some probably hung out eating chicken wings with Ivanhoe.
Forgetting turnover and attendance figures which interest no one other than the HKJC, what’s always puzzling in a Golly Gee Gosh way is why this programming on Channel 668 on NOW TV looks so old and flaccid. It’s not Now. It’s Then.
The presenters do the best they can with what they have to work with- nothing much- and for what must be a tiny television audiences. Content comprises eight pretty ordinary races and knowing that the odds of winning on the night are against them.
Still, being creatures of habit, they, us, we dabble, lose a couple of thousand and chalk it up to experience. But some don’t.
My friend who had to keep me company in some small way by watching some of these eight races while working out our holiday plans, had questions.
Like why the format for these programmes hasn’t changed since the days of black and white television? She wasn’t even born then.
Where’s the interactivity to even remotely interest and engage the disinterested?
Why is there a dedicated horse racing channel on NOWTV- Channel 668- available 24/7 and on Repeat every day…and hours after the last race has been run and lost?
Let’s think about that: a horse racing channel showing the night’s previous race meeting and some track work for hours on end. But why? For those who might have missed these races the first time around? This time around the results are going to change? Isn’t this why there’s an official website? For results and replays? And track work? And all kinds of information for that hardcore customer.
Wait: maybe there’s a secondary audience who might believe there are races taking place at 3am and are betting propositions?
There’s no other content to save some of us from the monotony of it all? No Happy Wednesday content? Then again, who will know it’s even there? Or what it is.
Sure, one can switch channels. Or return to practicing Tantric Yoga with Sting and Trudi.
But that’s not the point: It’s about having ownership of a television channel and managing it as if audiences in 2018 still follow the adventures of “Bonanza” and “My Friend Flicka”.
It’s underestimating the intelligence of the viewer. It’s not bothering to understand the audience. Mistake.
It’s not offering anything with an iota of entertainment appeal. And people wonder why horse racing doesn’t attract “younger people”?
If the medium is the message, then this type of vapid programming and non stop Golly Gee waffle is speaking at cross purposes. It’s irrelevant. Unless of course we’ve entered another dimension.
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