Wednesday, September 21, 2011
During it's first season this Summer, three of the hour-long programs were telecast were on NBC, with five others on the NBC Sports affiliate network Versus. Versus will become the NBC Sports Network on Jan. 2, 2012. The eight programs were telecast during a seven week span.
Extending the series another two years is a further indication of the commitment to horse racing by NBC Sports. The eight Saratoga telecasts over seven weeks were the most extensive live national broadcasts of horse racing ever.
NBC Sports is quickly becoming the home of live horse racing on network television. This year NBC became the first network since 2005 to telecast all three Triple Crown races in the same year. NBC was also the last to air all three Triple Crown races having aired the Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands (gr. 1), Preakness Stakes (gr. 1) and Belmont Stakes (gr. 1) in 2005.
NBC Sports will also air a similar series from Keeneland during their 2011 Fall meeting in October.
While NBC Sports has significantly increased their coverage of live horse racing during this year, it’s not because some vice president at NBC headquarters in New York has a daughter that likes “horseys” or because The Today Show’s Matt Lauer is a big fan of the game.
Horse racing has again generated good ratings. Coverage of the Travers and King’s Bishop Stakes earned a .7 rating according to Sports Media Watch’s web site. That equates to roughly 1.054 million viewers. By comparison the U.S. Open Series Winston Salem Open Men’s Tennis final between John Isner and Julien Benneteau drew a .04 final rating on CBS the same day. Also that afternoon, the first weekend of the 2011 World Track and Field Championships earned a 1.2 final rating.
For comparison, the 2011 Kentucky Derby drew an 8.5 rating while the Preakness and Belmont earned 6.0 and 4.3 ratings this year respectively. The 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic earned a 2.5 final rating. Ratings for the live coverage of Zenyatta's only career loss in the 2010 Classic was the highest rating for a Breeders' Cup in four years and was higher than any Major League Baseball game telecast on ESPN during the 2010 season. NBC earned a 14.3 final rating Sunday for the National Football League game between the Philadelphia Eagles and Atlanta Falcons.
Brock The Horse Still Winless
Brock the horse looked like a million dollars in the post parade of Belmont's third race Wednesday and the players agreed. Going off as the 6-to-5 favorite in the field of six, the $2.3 million auction purchase again failed to break his maiden is his sixth try, finishing second to winner Steele Bridge. Even less unfortunate is that Brock almost doubled his career earnings Wednesday with the $10,200 check that boosted his career earnings to $25,920.