Then Television became commonplace in American Homes in the late 1950's and Racing never really jumped on board.
The National Football League did jump on board from the beginning and it remains the king of Televised Sports and lately it is beating even the biggest non-sports shows. This stat from Molly Willow of the Columbus Dispatch "Tube Talk" column:
"About 22 million people watched afternoon playoff games weekly on both CBS and Fox. That's more than the average audience for this season's No. 1, Dancing With the Stars (19.2 million), and No. 2, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (18.8 million) -- both of which are on at night, when viewers might not have anything better to do"
Her theory on the huge ratings:
"I don't think the football audience has necessarily increased because the game has become more interesting as it has evolved. The NFL, after all, claims that its "Greatest Game Ever Played" took place in 1958.
Instead, I suspect a combination of the hyper-
commercialization of the sport (see: FedEx), the heightened interest because of fantasy football and, in no small part, high definition"
And oh yeah, not mentioned in the column but another factor is that people bet on the NFL games. Those with a betting interest are also tuning in.
Horse racing will never achieve the TV ratings of the NFL, but it can certainly increase it's share of TV eyeballs but promoting Fantasy Horse Stables and increasing shows broadcast in High Definition (including your local OTB Channel).
Molly Willow "Football Sailing High above Series Fare" The Columbus Dispatch. Jan. 14 2009