NBC Pulls in Largest Kentucky Derby Audience Since 1989

NBC Sports’ coverage of Saturday’s Kentucky Derby was the most viewed Kentucky Derby in 21 years according Nielsen data.  The race averaged 16.5 million viewers, topping last year’s 16.3 million and garnering 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).

Viewership for the 2010 Derby was up 51% (7.4 million viewers) compared to 2000, the last time the race was televised on a network other than NBC (9.1 million viewers on ABC).

“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,” says 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 marking an 11 percent increase over 2008 (8.8/21), which was fueled by the hype of “Super Horse” Big Brown.

NBC will air the Preakness Stakes on May 15, as Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver and jockey Calvin Borel will attempt to snatch the second leg of the triple crown.

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