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Harness Racing Goes HD

Published: December 11, 2013 6:53 pm ET

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One of the ways many have suggested improving the image of harness racing is by using high definition video to showcase the sport. With its Winter meet, The Meadowlands is one such track employing the technology and is receiving rave reviews.

Calling it a "massive upgrade" from the former system, Director of Simulcasting & TV Production Sam McKee told Trot Insider that the timing was right for the New Jersey track to make the move to a high-definition (HD) product.

"The equipment we had in the old building, we just 'piecemealed' together over the years because, obviously, the [New Jersey] Sports Authority was not putting much new capital into the video production," said McKee. "We looked at moving it over but once we moved it, half of it wouldn't work and it would have been nothing but problems so this was just a perfect opportunity to upgrade."

While cost has been one of the main reasons that comes to the fore as to why harness racing is predominantly featured in standard definition, McKee said the difference between analog and high-definition equipment wasn't all that different. The end result, however, is completely different.

"We are just tickled to death with how the signal looks in our building. It is fantastic. It's also on our Racing from The Meadowlands recap that's on SportsNet New York, that's in hi-def as well, and we're just ecstatic with how it looks."

While the only track currently broadcasting the HD signal is The Meadowlands itself, the replays posted to the track's YouTube channel are all uploaded in high-definition. The difference between the two videos below shows the difference between a regular race replay you'd watch online and one in high definition.

TVG FFA Pace - HD video

 

TVG FFA Pace - non-HD video

McKee notes that there are additional costs for tracks that wish to receive and broadcast a simulcast signal in HD format but feels it's just a matter of time before more tracks jump on board and the higher resolution format gains momentum throughout the industry.

"You'd have to have so much extra bandwidth to download it in HD, Roberts [Communications] would also have to transmit it in HD and they're not there yet to where it's cost-effective and feasible to do that but it's the direction the industry is going to go. "

The feedback that McKee has heard from simulcast outlets and patrons at The Meadowlands has been nothing short of stellar, stating that the widescreen TVs commonly used today help showcase the product even if not in HD.

"The response has been terrific, and in our sports bar we have 12' x 20' TVs and they dedicate one to the Meadowlands and, my goodness, it looks fantastic. I just sit there sometimes and watch it and say 'you've got to be kidding me! It's a huge upgrade."


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