Ben Keith: How broadcasting can boost racing engagement

Engaging new audiences has proven to be a key challenge for the UK racing sector in recent years, with broadcasters opting to utilise social media features to attract a younger demographic.

At September’s Betting on Sports conference, owner of Star Sports Ben Keith explained that it is very important to tailor the coverage of larger racing events to a younger audience.

Keith explained: “I think that ITV has put a different spin on racing compared to Channel 4, no better and no worse, just different. They have embraced more social media and fashion. So you see people like Chris Hughes and Matt Chapman, they caught a younger audience.

“I believe that this is very important. ITV is for the gala days, let’s be diverse. You’re not obliged to wear a top hat and tails or a trilby to go racing so let’s not give that impression. Purists can always watch racing on other days of the week.

“So racing needs to be diverse, be fun, be welcoming and avoid being sneery with difficult vocabulary which could otherwise put people off.”

Concerns over age-verification measures has also proven to be a key issue for the sector, however Keith emphasised that the sector is doing everything it can to tackle under-aged gambling.

He said: “I don’t really think that any more can be done. I bet on-course myself at the festivals when it’s particularly busy. I understand that it’s against the law for those under the age of 18 to bet, and that is correct, however I know that all of the staff on my pitch certainly check those that look too young.

“We check their ID, and we know that other bookmakers are also checking. I’m certain that as an on-course bookmaker myself that we are all doing everything we can.”