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Kentucky Lottery Drawings Moved to Internet from TV

The Kentucky Lottery announced Tuesday an important change in the way players will be made aware of the winning numbers. This letter was issued by President and CEO Arch Gleason:


The Kentucky Lottery is making a major shift in our nightly televised drawing show.

TV drawings first started in Kentucky back in 1989. At that time, the lottery spent a considerable amount to pay TV stations (or otherwise making advertising commitments) to air the drawings. In the mid-1990’s, this model changed and the lottery stopped making ad commitments or paying stations to air the drawings. The feeling was the draw show was actually a benefit to stations, as it would help drive viewers there during a timeslot when there might not have normally been many people watching.

As the media world evolved, technology changed to where players had new ways to check winning numbers – and nightly televised drawing shows started to become obsolete. In fact, many states, notably Indiana and Tennessee, have shut down their shows completely. There are more states now that don’t air their drawings (25) as there are states that still maintain a draw show (19). States in recent history who have taken the step of shutting down their draw shows have not seen a significant and lasting drop in sales as a result of the move.

When we started our draw show 23 years ago, the Internet as we know it didn’t exist. Newspapers, retailers and the nightly show were the main places where people found winning numbers. Now, more than half of our players – 54% at last count – say Internet use is the way they find winning numbers. This is more than double the amount which find drawing results in the next highest ranked outlet (newspapers, at 25%).

On top of this shift, and again thanks to changes in technology, the price of TV production equipment has rapidly decreased. Whereas it used to require a studio set-up that could run into the millions of dollars to broadcast a drawing, the necessary gear and infrastructure can now be obtained for a small fraction of this cost.

As a result of the changes in this landscape, we are making a big change to our nightly drawing program. Starting in the next few weeks, we will no longer be airing our drawing on broadcast TV stations. Instead, drawings will be streamed live and archived on the Kentucky Lottery’s website.

One major caveat of this shift is that we’ve never had the ability to let players see our midday Pick 3 and Pick 4 drawings unless they came to our headquarters in Louisville and watched them. Now, thanks to this new program, we are planning for both our midday AND evening drawings to be streamed live and archived on the lottery’s website.

There will however still be a cable and satellite outlet for the Mega Millions and Powerball drawings. These draws are shown live on WGN-TV, an outlet on nearly every cable and satellite system. That will not change as a result of this move.

Players can also receive winning numbers via our Twitter feed. They are also available via text message or email by signing up for the Kentucky Lottery’s Player’s Fun Club on our website.

Surveys indicate very few of our players watch the nightly drawing show. Statistics from recent years show about 2% of players watch the draw show daily either on TV or via our website where it’s currently streamed, whereas upwards of 80% say they never watch the show or watch once a year. Interestingly though is the finding that about half our players say that, even though they aren’t watching it on TV very often, it’s important to them that televised drawings take place. By making this commitment to the platform most of our players are using to find winning numbers anyway, we’re keeping the drawings available for viewing in the place where a majority of players look for results.

We realize a small minority of players aren’t going to be happy about this change. We know we’re going to hear from them. They’ve been watching our nightly show for a couple of decades now, and are accustomed to getting results in this manner.

At the end of the day though we’re tasked with finding ways to save money and operate our business as efficiently as possible. Given the significant cost of producing the show and the declining viewership, the justification just wasn’t there to keep the show on broadcast TV. However, unlike other states, we’re not shutting it down completely – it’s just moving solely to the Internet. Players will still be able to see the balls and machines drawing winning numbers.

The bottom line is this – keeping a draw show on the air for a very small and dwindling audience cost about a half million dollars a year. By bringing this production in-house, a significant amount of what we were spending (around 95% after start-up costs) can be saved.

And every dollar we save is a dollar that goes to help send kids in Kentucky to college. The Kentucky Lottery is the sole funding source of the popular KEES scholarship program, and provides a majority of funds for the CAP and KTG college grant programs. When we take an action like this to save funds, that means more money we send to the Commonwealth – and more Kentucky kids gets to realize the dream of a college education.

Feel free to send me your questions and concerns. I can be reached at [email protected] . I hope you enjoy this new chapter in our history, and as always, thanks for playing!