First of all, we’re just not buying the logic that it’s a good thing for Churchill Downs that ESPN decided to pass on coverage of the Wednesday post position draw and the Kentucky Oaks during Derby Week.
We will give the track credit, though, for incorporating the TV snub into a re-branding campaign for the Oaks that includes a marketing push directed toward women. And it’s possible that local coverage of the two events will be better for local fans.
Moving the Oaks coverage over to the Bravo Network seems a bit laughable, but Darren Rogers, the track’s communications VP, says it fits right in with the new “Ladies First” branding campaign. He said Bravo will focus its first half-hour of coverage on pageantry and celebrities — sort of a TMZ meets the Oaks. The second 30 minutes will be devoted to racing.
“It’s a good partnership and we’re reaching out to a different audience, and true racing fans will find us on Bravo,” Rogers said.
Plus, he said Bravo reaches 90 million TV households nationally, just shy of ESPN’s 98 million. The re-branding includes the idea of bringing in famed chef Bobby Flay, promoting a Derby-themed Barbie and incorporating a fund-raiser for the Komen for the Cure organization. There’s even a Pink-Out, encouraging everyone to wear pink on Friday.
The post-position draw, as we mentioned yesterday, was dropped by ESPN, most likely because it wasn’t an attractive enough show for advertisers. Rogers says that local stations who want to carry the draw, which will be held at Noon Wednesday at the track, are welcome to do so. It’s hard to imagine local stations not being there, given the opportunity to report something that’s actually newsworthy from the track.
The Oaks, by the way, is just 31 days away.