It’s been a rather hectic, hustle and bustle of a week for CasinoBeats, with a lavish awards bash followed the next night by a highly enjoyable Christmas party, and a very well timed Sky Sports Racing press launch sandwiched in between.
An early start following the SBC Awards sounded like a terrific idea in advance, a first visit to Sky Sports’ Osterley campus seemed to fall just perfectly, shaking off the cobwebs on a dreary Wednesday morning however, the reality was a stark contrast.
But off we trudged, energy drink in hand, to take a step out of our usual arena for a morning/afternoon, only after one of those commutes across London, they’re always good fun aren’t they?
The first, and only, issue of the day was encountered upon arrival, that being how to actually gain access to the campus, which was achieved a brief, and unexpected, tour by a helpful security guard, during which it became evident that we could very easily find ourselves lost at some point.
All signed in, it was time for another little tour, this time to Sky Central, where the sheer enormity, and impressiveness of the place become crystal clear.
Christmassy constructions were underway, as was something which seemed to feature a huge whale fin (we were confused by that too), and even a little taste of home with Manchester-esque festive themed market stalls.
Even the bus stops for Sky shuttle services were a touch imposing, Lewis Hamilton, The Simpsons’ Kwik-E-Mart and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom were all given a slightly grandiose treatment.
Entering Sky Central, and you instantly notice that the place has a cinema, complete with a smattering of superhero movie outfits, Batman, Bane et al, straight out of a host of Hollywood spectaculars, hugely impressive.
Sky News was (probably) hastily discussing Brexit just above two busy restaurants, with the glass box studio also having the pleasure of featuring a comically large Christmas tree just next door.
Waitrose was a little further down the corridor from the meeting room where 50 of the country’s media gathered, greeted by Sky Sports News veteran and soon-to-be full time lead presenter of the new station Alex Hammond, who also took on a role of hosting the day.
In true Sky Sports fashion it went off like a well oiled machine, presentations, Q&A’s and studio tours segwayed smoothly, and it all sounded very positive.
With the At The Races re-brand set to come into effect on January 1, 2019, a real emphasis was placed upon future prospects, as opposed to an immediate uptick in viewer numbers.
ITV was labelled a complimentary offering and not a competitor, Sky Sports Main Event could perhaps broadcast content from the newest genre channel to the organisation’s stable and a plethora of recognisable features and technological items are to be implemented.
Amongst those is the interactive screen synonymous with football output, Monday Night Racing is to be introduced and cross promotions right across all of the Sky Sports output is to be undertaken, in an attempt to maximise viewer numbers.
Elevating events in a crowded marketplace was one challenge unpicked, with international scale another area largely covered, a point emphasised by increasing customer numbers as a result of Sky’s Comcast buy-out earlier in the year, as well as a deal with “horse racing’s home in the US” NBC, amongst others.
The purpose built studio, a stone’s throw from the Soccer AM set (which provided a welcome distraction), also has all the hallmarks synonymous with Sky.
Certain question marks loom, and issues were raised over the course of the day, but the overwhelming message was very much one of future prospects and what that could potentially hold, not just for Sky Sports Racing but the sport of horse racing as a whole.
Check out the below promotional video regarding the soon to be debuting Sky Sports Racing.