Bestseat360 system was used for the Melbourne Cup 2022 – although the livestream was not publicised, and has already been used for races in this years carnival.
Lexus Melbourne Club organisers have teamed with a Kiwi startup to offer new ways to watch the famous race live.
The Victoria Racing Club – which owns Flemington – has drafted in Bestseat360 to wrangle
what is billed as a “revolutionary” livestream, which will be available through the insiderun.com.au website.
The site will offer live footage of the race from a drone, 50 metres above the horses, or jump onto the jockey cam or helicopter or any of the many cameras tracking the race. Fans will be able to toggle between the different views with a mouseclick or touch of their finger, with split screen options.
The tech is not quite revolutionary in that Bestseat founder Craig Meek and his team successfully used it to livestream last year’s Melbourne Cup.
But their 2022 effort was kept on the down-low in deference to Australian broadcast rightsholder Channel 10.
This year, the Victoria Racing Club is happy to let everyone know that as well as the Channel 10 coverage (and Sky TV and TVNZ here), the race will be livestreamed via insiderun.com.au – which is owned and run by the VRC.
“Gone are the days of being limited to a single broadcast feed. At this year’s Lexus Melbourne Cup, and all Carnival days, fans and punters will be able to choose and switch between different cameras during a race via Insiderun.com.au” says Paul Bonacci, head of digital, strategic development, products and channels at Victoria Racing Club.
There will be no geoblocking. Kiwis will be able to tap into the site, if they wish, though Meek says ultimately online views in the likes of the US or the Middle East will be the juiciest targets.
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Meek is best known for co-founding Virtual Spectator for following the America’s Cup. Bestseat360 swaps Virtual Spectator’s live 3D animations for livestreamed video footage, partnering with AWS to deliver high-definition images.
It’s still interactive at heart, however, given the viewer acts as their own director, choosing viewers. As such, Meek sees Insiderun.com.au as outside traditional broadcast deals, or at least as a “second screen” complement.
He also sees it as a key way for racing to reach a younger audience or the “TikTok generation” as he puts it. “Gen Z and Gen Y don’t want to be told how watch.”
To a degree, Tuesday afternoon will also be a dry run. There will only be a bcam on one horse, which will be decided shortly before the start (update: it will be Zac Lloyd, riding 23, Kalapour). Next year, Meek hopes for cams on all the entrants. He says there could also be some “personalised betting” features, including making it easy to get track of the horse you’ve wagered on.
Commercial details are confidential, but Meek says early Bestseat360 investor Harness Racing Australia is now out of the picture. The Herald covered their deal in December 2019. Just weeks later, Covid knocked for six. Today, Bestseat360 is owned by Meek plus a number of high-net-worth individuals, with former Sistema owner Brendan Lindsay the single biggest shareholder.
Meek says Covid saw Bestseat adopt a whole new way of working, enabled to a large part by AWS (Amazon Web Services). And, unlike many other companies, it’s persisted. The entrepreneur and his team will direct co-ordinate their Melbourne Cup livestream mostly from Northcote Point on Auckalnd’s North Shore, with just one staffer on the ground at Flemington.
Bestseat360′s local efforts were also derailed by the arrival of Covid moments after its launch. Meek is assessing a new push once new TAB owner Entain gets its feet under the desk.
His firm has also done some motorsport showcases, including a ride with Formula 1 Red Bull driver Sergio Perez at the 2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix – which was not livestreamed but did serve as a proof-of-concept.
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As high-definition bodycams get smaller and smaller, and more and more lightweight, Meek also sees potential for viewers to watch point-of-view cameras affixed to cricket or rugby players.
“Everyone could be a TMO.”
Chris Keall is an Auckland-based member of the Herald’s business team. He joined the Herald in 2018 and is the technology editor and a senior business writer.