Columbus, OH --- The numbers are in, and Thursday’s Little Brown Jug live chat with video on www.ustrotting.com set an all-time Horseplayer NOW/Night School record for attendance with 6,729 unique visitors.
The Jug chat surpassed the previous largest chat on the 2010 Kentucky Derby (6,608) as well as the 2011 Preakness (6,416) and the 2009 Breeders’ Cup (6,177).
At the peak of the chat, there were nearly 4,000 visitors engaged. It began at 10:30 a.m. and lasted eight hours and 41 minutes with the average viewer staying for 61 minutes.
It should be noted that the Little Brown Jug chat was only presented on one website, the USTA’s home site.
Besides being on the Horse Player NOW website, the Triple Crown and Breeders’ Cup chats were also hosted on a national TV network site, Triple Crown event websites and Xpress Bet. The 2010 Kentucky Derby live chat was simulcast on NBCSports.com during their national telecast, the 2011 Preakness was simulcast on Preakness.com, and the 2009 Breeders' Cup was simulcast on Breederscup.com next to the live video feed.
Since their first one with Remington Park on Sept. 14, 2009, Horse Player NOW has conducted more than 1,500 live chats.
“Utilizing technology, we were able to showcase the Little Brown Jug and harness racing to thousands of people for nearly nine hours on our website on the Internet,” said Mike Tanner, USTA executive VP and CEO. “These results indicate that when we present our sport in the right way through the proper channels, there is significant interest in our game.
“There has been a lot of work done, not only in coordinating the successful Jug chat, but in building the foundation of Night School for the past two years and promoting it through the internet and other social media channels. It demonstrates some of the possibilities for promoting harness racing.”
One of the major contributors to the record audience was the support provided by the USTA’s new social media initiative with Converseon, who created a new social channel that interacted with other platforms, cross promoted on all of the USTA’s existing channels and assisted in posting to multiple social media outlets throughout Jug Day.
The promotion of the race day chat on multiple social channels and the traffic generated through the cooperative effort between Converseon and the USTA informed many of those that participated.
“We created a new USTA Instagram handle (@ustrotting) that we used for the Little Brown Jug and tied it in with Facebook and Twitter, including the #Jug 13 hashtag,” said Jane Quigley, Converseon’s Chief Client Officer. “With the tie in to Facebook and Twitter plus the momentum of the program, we saw immediate growth in the Instagram account.”
Unfortunately, it is impossible to measure the exact impact that the chat had on handle during the Little Brown Jug or how many of the visitors to the chat were not just the usual harness racing fans.
Horse Player NOW’s Joe Kristufek, who hosted the chat with frequent Hoof Beats contributor Tim Bojarski, was impressed with the participation of non-harness players as well as the passion of the harness racing enthusiasts from around the world during the chat.
“We saw that the Jug chat melded the hardcore harness fan, both national and international, with our core group of curious Thoroughbred horseplayers who visited for the camaraderie and action.
"The vast majority of the participants are horseplayers who share their opinions with the hosts and each other, and are there to increase their knowledge and confidence in making their wagers. We know from their comments that they are adding to the handle.
“The level of overall fan appreciation was through the roof. In the last hour, there were at least 25 posts applauding the presentation, many of which said that this was one of the best things that the USTA has ever done,” emphasized Kristufek. “Harness racing should consider doing a live chat schedule around all of its major races.
“Everything worked in synergy; you guys did a great job promoting it.”
Following are the top 10 Horse Play NOW chats ever:
9/19/2013--Little Brown Jug Full-Card Live Chat--6,729
5/1/2010--Kentucky Derby/Churchill Downs Live Analysis & Chat--6,608
5/21/2011--Preakness Day/Pimlico Live Analysis & Chat--6,416
11/7/2009--Breeders' Cup Saturday--6,177
3/31/2012--Dubai World Cup, Florida Derby Day, Santa Anita Live Chat--4,915
11/6/2009--Breeders' Cup Friday--4,739
2/26/2012--Gulfstream Park Live Analysis & Chat--4,520
4/16/2011--Keeneland (BONUS: Arkansas Derby) Live Analysis & Chat--3,930
4/2/2010--Keeneland Live Analysis & Chat--3,472
4/17/2010--Keeneland Live Analysis & Chat--3,348
Fans can participate in Night School chats every Tuesday night through Dec. 3, 2013 by clicking here or on the Night School banner on the home page of www.ustrotting.com. To learn more about Horse Player NOW and Night School visit www.HorsePlayerNOW.com.