Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Lost In Translation

As fortunately as it is surprising, no one around here seems to be in the early stages of hysteria in anticipation of this week’s visit of the American Messiah-elect to our (really not that) humble town.

Unlike the prophets of old however, Obama is poised to block our way through the raging waters (or over them, for that matter), as the bridge I would usually take to my job will be closed for security reasons on Thursday.

Anyway, the reason I posted today is that Pull The Pocket has brought it to the blogosphere’s attention that Poker Channel Europe yesterday started to televise American racing in a daily hour-long show. PCE is an extremely remote digital channel available on a very limited number of cable systems, but one that can be viewed using Zattoo.

Poker and Racing, by the way, are a natural match. Both are the only two forms of gambling in which skill and determination can give you a winning percentage. Both are also the only ones in which the house (at least theoretically) can be neutral towards the result as long as the handle is high enough.

I was intrigued by the concept for a couple of minutes, even more so when I clicked the link on PCE’s website to get further information and realized that their program is actually presented and produced by Equi8, a relatively new and very promising German web channel/ADW which is for the most part a continuation/copy of defunct Premiere Win. P-Win was a German channel dedicated almost exlusively to American horse racing run by pay-per-view service Premiere, but it was actually available for free and streamed its entire program (6pm-2am weekdays, ca. 2pm-2am weekends) online.

It had its pitfalls, but nevertheless it was easily the best of several failed attempts at establishing a racing channel in Germany. One of its best features was a crew of really good commentators, ranging from longtime analysts to active jockeys and trainers.

After watching half an hour of the “Equi8 Happy Hour”’s lead-in program (virtual poker, no kidding) I was sure I knew what to expect, and that it wouldn’t be bad. After all, what could go wrong with a studio crew of longtime veteran Michael Luxenburger and Thorsten Castle, the track announcer at Munich Racecourse and a brilliant promoter at times (both are P-Win alumni)?

I was gonna find out soon enough: they were forced to moderate in English. Both aren’t bad at English, but both aren’t nearly good enough to go On Air speaking it, mainly because they have too detectable an accent and lack the easy slap-of-tongue they master in their native language. The program had a studio crew that can be a joy to listen to, and used it in a way that made listening to them an ordeal. That’s wasted talent, and a textbook case of offending two audiences by trying to be everything to everyone.

Let’s be honest for a second: how large does PCE assess the market in Cyprus, Croatia and Belgium to be? As long as they aren’t allowed to show it in the UK or Ireland, the market for this show is Germany. And if they would be allowed, they’d find out the hard way that no native speaker would listen to a bunch of accent-plagued Germans using mispronounced English to discuss American racing. If you assemble a team of some of the best German racing analysts, why not use that potential rather than have them struggle uncomfortably through moderations that end up lacking, or worse?

No comments:

Post a Comment