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Saturday, 20 October, 2018

Arena courses delay big-screen action in crackdown on illegal streaming

Wolverhampton: two-second delay on big screen
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Arena Racing Company has taken action to combat illegal filming and streaming of the action from its courses by introducing a delay to the live pictures being shown on big screens.

While they still operate at a marginal delay, big screens at most racecourses run nearly live, meaning anyone off course who is capable of watching the races via the big screen has an advantage over those viewing the action on television. 

This can have implications for punters betting on the action in-running, with major gains possible for those able to see what is happening before the majority of the market.

In-running punters have been known to hire expensive hospitality boxes at some fixtures to make the most of this advantage, but streaming of the big screen enables those off course to have the same head start without the costs.

Others who could be affected by the delay include jockeys, who use the screen to check where the opposition are, and paying racegoers watching on course. There are also implications for the lucrative media rights deals struck on racing’s behalf.

Alternative feeds

A delay of just over two seconds was timed by the Racing Post at Wolverhampton’s meeting last Friday. No such delay was evident on the big screen at Ripon on Monday.

Wolverhampton confirmed the delay and that it had been in effect for around six weeks. Officials were able to watch the action live on an alternative feed for integrity purposes, while no complaints had been received from jockeys or racegoers.

Increased security has been introduced at Chelmsford to prevent similar streaming taking place, with officials not wanting to delay pictures for the majority of racegoers.

Fraser Garrity, the track’s manager, said: “We’ve had a few ‘FaceTimers’ with mobile phones trying to film the action off the screens inside the stand, presumably to give an advantage of a couple of seconds to someone else off course.

“We have good security who are able to identify and remove people from the course. We’ve had our big screen only since February 2016 and we don’t want to disrupt the majority of people who are watching it legitimately by having a delay.”

Planned upgrade

Arc said the delay was part of a planned upgrade to big screens at the group's courses, with the all-weather tracks prioritised because of the amount of racing they host.

Director of operations, Mark Spincer, said: “Over the next year we're upgrading the feed to the big screens and TVs across our racecourses by moving from an analogue to a digital service. This creates a small delay, which is kept to a minimum, and will improve the quality of the pictures customers enjoy when they are on our racecourses.”

A spokesman for the Jockey Club reported there were no delays to pictures on big screens at its racecourses.

We’ve had a few ‘FaceTimers’ with mobile phones trying to film the action off the screens inside the stand
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