We heard how much that the Kentucky Derby likes the way NBC airs the race every first Saturday in May and now it has even more reason to. A rainy day with a sloppy racetrack led to high ratings for the Fastest Two Minutes in Sports, in fact, the highest in over two decades.
MOST WATCHED KENTUCKY DERBY IN 21 YEARS
16.5 Million Viewers Watch Super Saver and Calvin Borel Win, Topping Last Year’s Derby (16.3 Million)
In 10 Years the Kentucky Derby is Now Seen By 7 Million More Viewers
**16.5 Million in 2010 on NBC vs. 9.1 Million in 2000 on ABC**
“You didn’t have to be a horse racing fan to thoroughly enjoy NBC’s Kentucky Derby coverage and, when you think about it, that’s the sign of a tremendous production.” – St. Petersburg Times, May 2, 2010
NEW YORK – May 4, 2010 – NBC Sports’ coverage of Saturday’s Kentucky Derby was the most viewed Kentucky Derby in 21 years according to data provided by The Nielsen Company. The race averaged 16.5 million viewers, topping last year’s 16.3 million and two million more than the 14.2 million in 2008. Saturday’s race was the most watched Kentucky Derby since 1989 when Sunday Silence won the Derby (18.5 million).
NBC Sports coverage of the Kentucky Derby now reaches more than seven million more viewers than the last Kentucky Derby broadcast by ABC in 2000 (16.5 million vs.9.1 million, up 51 percent).
KENTUCKY DERBY VIEWERSHIP
2010 – 16.5 million/NBC – Super Saver
2009 – 16.3 million/NBC – Mine That Bird
2008 – 14.2 million/NBC – Big Brown
2007 – 13.8 million/NBC – Street Sense
2006 – 12.9 million/NBC – Barbaro
2005 – 13.6 million/NBC – Giacomo
2004 – 14.6 million/NBC – Smarty Jones
2003 – 11.8 million/NBC – Funny Cide
2002 – 12.8 million/NBC – War Emblem
2001 – 13.8 million/NBC – Monarchos
2000 - 9.1 million/ABC – Fusaichi Pegasus
1999 - 9.9 million/ABC – Charismatic
1998 - 9.5 million/ABC – Real Quiet
1997 – 11.3 million/ABC – Silver Charm
1996 – 11.0 million/ABC – Grindestone
1995 - 9.3 million/ABC – Thunder Gulch
1994 – 12.1 million/ABC – Go For Gin
1993 – 11.5 million/ABC – Sea Hero
1992 – 13.7 million/ABC – Lil E Tee
1991 – 13.4 million/ABC – Strike The Gold
1990 – 15.6 million/ABC – Unbridled
1989 – 18.5 million/ABC – Sunday Silence
“In this time of a fragmented television landscape amassing this large audience is a real accomplishment, a testament to the vision of Bob Evans and his team at Churchill Downs to reach the broadest possible audience and to help make this great American tradition even bigger,” said Ken Schanzer, President, NBC Sports.
Saturday’s race coverage notched a 9.8 national rating and a 23 share, tying last year’s Kentucky Derby as the highest rating in 18 years (1992 won by Lil E Tee, 10.3/30), and an 11 percent increase over 2008 (8.8/21) fueled by the hype of “Super Horse” Big Brown.
PREAKNESS STAKES ON NBC SPORTS, MAY 15: In two weeks, Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver with jockey Calvin Borel, who has won three of the last four Kentucky Derby’s, will take one more step to try to become the first horse to win the Triple Crown in 32 years, since Affirmed in 1978. NBC Sports’ coverage of The Preakness Stakes from Pimlico Racecourse in Baltimore, Md., begins Saturday, May 15 at 4:30 p.m. ET.
After the race, Borel told NBC Sports reporter Donna Brothers, “You know what? I’m gonna win the Triple Crown this year.”
CRITICS PRAISE NBC’S KENTUCKY DERBY COVERAGE:
“NBC’s Kentucky Derby coverage represents a triumph of packaging. It transforms a sports event that lasts about two minutes into a three-hour TV show and creates story lines around athletes who literally aren’t quotable…and it scores at the TV box office.”
– USA Today
“NBC’s broadcast had a little something for everyone, from the diehard horse racing enthusiast to the casual observer who tunes in just to watch celebrities in silly hats sipping mint juleps. There were compelling features on owners, horses and jockeys that were interesting, informative and entertaining, even to those who watch this one horse race a year. Host Bob Costas did his usual masterful job running things, while reporter Donna Brothers was the star of the broadcast with her reports, mostly from horseback. You didn’t have to be a horse racing fan to thoroughly enjoy NBC’s Kentucky Derby coverage and, when you think about it, that’s the sign of a tremendous production.”
- St. Petersburg Times
“NBC had some very good stuff. A feature on the 25 regular Joes (and at least one Josephine) who shared the $10,000 purchase of Noble’s Promise was particularly good. At the piece’s end, NBC analyst and ex-jockey Gary Stevens provided some neat gift wrap, reminding us that working stiffs don’t own NFL or MLB teams, but they can own a horse in the Kentucky Derby.”
- New York Post