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MarketWatch Interview: Kevin Grigsby of FanDuel TV

In September 2022 the TVG racing channel rebranded as FanDuel TV. While it has added some sports wagering programming and information following the rebrand, the channel has stayed true to its racing roots.

BloodHorse editorial director Frank Angst recently caught up with Kevin Grigsby, executive producer and senior vice president at FanDuel TV, to talk about this first year and where the channel goes from here.

BH: How has the first year gone since rebranding to FanDuel TV?

KG: The rebranding has gone quite well and has met or exceeded expectations. We had two major objectives going into the rebrand. First of all, we wanted to make sure that we stayed true to our core audience, which is horse racing through and through. We did not want to alienate and/or make mad the core audience that we have—the racing customers. I did not want to disrupt any of the racing partners that we have—the content rights holders, the racetracks themselves who we are partnered with on many different levels. 

And I’m happy to say that from a business perspective and from a racing perspective, we have not missed a domestic race this year as FanDuel TV compared with what we had aired last year as TVG. I’m proud of that.

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That’s objective number one. 

Objective number two was to diversify our programming, to brand it ‘FanDuel’ and to do some programming and content outside of horse racing, which we’ve done and I’m proud of. We’ve done that content outside of domestic racing; not disrupting the core. So I’m proud of where we are a year into it. 

There’s still testing going on, there’s still learning and that is being applied on an everyday basis. But at its core, I think we’ve met our objectives after a year.

BH: The TVG name carried a lot of weight with racing fans but FanDuel is about as big as it gets in the sports betting category. How big is it for a racing channel to be tied to FanDuel and what is the opportunity?

KG: I’ve been here 24 years and spent 24 years building the TVG brand. It was a team effort. I’m not going to say I was the most influential person in building the TVG brand but I’m in the top rung of people that built that brand over the last 24 years. And I’m very proud of that brand. I love that brand. It’s very close to me, given that I’ve worked to build that brand for more than two decades. 

I also see the power of the FanDuel brand and how it’s being compared to entities in sports, whether it’s ESPN or Fox Sports or brands like Gatorade, and Nike. These are brands that the FanDuel brand is approaching in regards to brand recognition in the United States. For us to attach our content offering, and to push horse racing with that brand attached to a new generation of potential race fans is something we’re excited about. And, to a little bit of an extent, it’s working.

BH: While sports wagering information and shows have been added to the channel, the core racing product continues to tell racing’s story, offering race coverage, information, and features on the participants. How important was it to maintain that?

KG: It’s about staying true to our horse racing audience, which is the industry, the bettors, and our track partners. I think the thing I’m most proud of is that we’re always on for racing. You know we’re going to be there. Like people that work in the industry every day, they have to wake up and go care for these horses—whether you’re a breeder, a trainer, a jockey. We wake up each and every day to show this sport. We don’t take days off; there’s no seasons to what we do. We are a seven-day-a-week proposition for racing, just like racing is a seven-day-a-week proposition for thousands of people that work in this industry. So I’m really proud of that. Once we pivoted to FanDuel TV, we kept that mentality. That’s what we were going to do. 

We continue to talk about betting because that’s our core business. We want people to bet on this sport. We feel that the stories we tell are trying to get people engaged and interested so that they do make the jump. At the same time we know there’s thousands of people that work in this sport that want to be appreciated. We want to appreciate them, whether it’s on the breeding side, whether it’s someone’s stallion, whether it’s someone’s good work with what they do on the backside, whether it’s aftercare. Those are things that are still really important to us. Whether it’s the PDJF (Permanently Disabled Jockeys’ Fund), whether it’s CARMA (California Retirement Management Account); these are initiatives that we’ve pushed on the television network, despite the fact that betting wasn’t attached.

BH: In terms of racing coverage, what does the agreement reached in December that will give FanDuel exclusive television rights to Churchill Downs Inc. tracks (excluding some Kentucky Derby week content) mean for FanDuel TV?

KG: Just covering Churchill tracks’ racing on a day-to-day basis is something we are very excited about. As much as we continue to have the integrative partnerships with racetracks, whether it be the Stronach Group or Keeneland, or Del Mar or the Breeders Cup, Churchill is going to get a taste of what our employees can do on a day-to-day basis to drive their business. 

For us to be able to go and cover Churchill and to be on-site for the racing on a daily basis is something that everyone cares deeply about—so much so that there’s going to be times in which I’m going to have to remind my own employees that they work for me and not Churchill. And that’s a compliment, because I’ve run into that all the time with our announcers. They go to Keeneland and then they go to Del Mar and a lot of times they think they work for the tracks because they care so much about that business and they care so much about racing. They want it to succeed. 

Bango wins 2022 Bet on Sunshine Stakes at Churchill Downs
Photo: Coady Photography

Racing at Churchill Downs

What I’m looking forward to most in regards to our partnership with Churchill is just covering them each and every day because they deserve it. They have a fine product.

BH: Along the lines of this agreement, it would seem that we’re entering a world where added content is going to be important. It’s something horse racing can bring to the table for sports bettors.

KG: Yes, having Churchill’s content, with Stronach Group content, and the content of the other partners that I mentioned earlier, and to put it together in a very compelling hour of racing—an hour that is a gambling proposition—is definitely something that is right in our wheelhouse. 

Putting live pictures of horse racing in front of customers and sports fans that we care about, that we can transact, is my main goal. I am not someone that sits here and whimsically hopes that they come find me. I am a hunter. I send pictures into people’s TVs, devices, iPads, computers. I am aggressively putting horse racing in front of people and packaging it in a way that is a nice soft landing point for them. Once they enter, we make it exciting; make it a betting proposition for them. Maybe they could have a little fun over an hour or a couple of hours. 

Hopefully I get them to come back and do it again. Essentially that’s my job on an everyday basis. 

For more on FanDuel and racing, check out Frank Angst’s recent Dollars and Sense column.

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