With our favorite polo series and tournaments canceled in the interest of global health for the foreseeable future, there are still ways to stay connected with teams and players. From Instagram Live chats to streaming content on the Internet, on one hand, it is as easy as ever to stay connected to our community. Sure, it’s still not the same as actually being there, in the VIP tent on the sidelines, but it might help to change out of those yoga pants and pour yourself a mimosa while you tune into a few of our preferred platforms.
Global Polo, streaming online at globalpolo.com, continues to push out original content. “Inside the Boards” is hosted by the U.K.’s Karl Ude-Martinez, who joins guests via video chats. The platform did not exist a year ago. “We feel we are really doing the right thing at the right time,” said USPA’s Shannon Stilson, assistant vice president of marketing at USPA Global Licensing. The launch and roll-out coincided with the 2020 Gauntlet of Polo series. Global Polo was posting two or three live games per day when the matches were played back-to-back at the International Polo Club in Wellington. The producers also created 10-minute recap videos of the matches.
COVID-19 brought the entire world to a grinding halt, and by early March as cities, counties and states were going into lockdown and enforcing stay-at-home orders, the leadership at the U.S. Polo Assn. met to discuss discontinuing the Gauntlet of Polo series. In an effort to stave off the inevitable, the last matches were played in the company of only grooms, coaches, family, close friends and USPA personnel. A few days later, the remaining matches of the series were canceled. Faced with a lack of fresh content, Stilson and the Global Polo team discussed what could continue to be produced and how. With subscription numbers hovering just under 5,000, they did not want to disappoint the fan base they had worked so hard to attain in a short period.
“Inside the Boards” would continue to be taped and produced remotely, working across time zones and language barriers. Additionally, the crew dug into the archives to pull out best-of and vintage matches.
Each Monday, an email newsletter drops the weekly lineup, and Stilson says the response has been positive. Global Polo exceeded 5,000 subscribers and will partner with Polo Lifestyles in the month of May to distribute content and expand the subscription base.
The Instagram Live feature is another one of our favorite places to connect with polo players and influencers. Although less planned and more spontaneous than Web-based streaming content, if you are on your phone and happen to follow more than 10 polo users, chances are you will find a live chat at just about any given time. Instagram Live is not perfect, the interactive feature has considerable delays, and depending upon Wi-Fi bandwidth, the connections can be less than ideal. But the conversations and topics are raw, off-handed and generally motivational.
ChukkerTV, available for free on most TV and phone streaming platforms, created the ChukkerTV@Home feed, in which polo personalities interview players and others. Interviews to date include Grant Ganzi, Juan Bollini Jr., Nic Roldan, Sebastian Merlos, Gussie Busch, Billy Busch, Hilario Ulloa, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, Jan-Erik Franck, Hope Arellano and Julio Arellano.
PoloLine.tv has a plethora of quality segments on 11 different channels on their subscription-free Web site. The PoloLive.tv channel lineup includes FIP, The Polo Show, Q&A, Polo News, Women’s Polo, Royal Charity Polo, The 2018 Westchester Cup, Polo Herencia de Gloria, Gladiator Polo, Break Time and XPL.