Preakness Viewership on NBC Up

8.8 Million Watch Preakness Race, Up 5% From 2010; Second Most in 5 Years

“…Good television is good television, and NBC’s coverage of horse racing is the definition of good television.”

– St. Petersburg Times, 5-23-11


NEW YORK – May 24, 2011 – The NBC Sports broadcast of the Preakness Stakes, in which Shackleford held off Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom by ½ length, drew 8.8 million viewers, a gain of five percent over last year’s race and the second most-watched Preakness in five years, according to official national data provided today by The Nielsen Company.

  • The race portion of the Preakness (5:56-6:41 p.m. ET) drew 8.8 million viewers, five percent more than last year’s race (8.4 million) and the second most-watched Preakness race in five years, topped only by the much-hyped boys vs. girls showdown in 2009 when filly Rachel Alexandra – with jockey Calvin Borel – beat Mine That Bird, which Borel rode to victory in the Kentucky Derby.
  • The national rating for Saturday’s race portion was a 5.6 with a 13 share, up six percent from last year’s 5.3/13 and the second highest in five years.
  • NBC Sports coverage of this year’s Preakness reached more than three million more viewers than the last Preakness broadcast by ABC in 2000 (8.8 million vs. 5.5 million, up 60 percent).

PREAKNESS A RATINGS SUCCESS ON NBC: Since NBC Sports began broadcasting the Preakness in 2001, every Preakness telecast on NBC over that period attracted more viewers than any Preakness telecast on ABC in the previous seven years. Viewership for the Preakness is up an average of 63% in the 11 years on NBC compared to the previous eight years on ABC.

PREAKNESS ON NBC (2001-2011)

Year Viewers

2011 8.8 million
2010 8.4 million
2009 10.9 million
2008 7.9 million
2007 8.4 million
2006 10.1 million
2005 9.3 million
2004 11.6 million
2003 8.6 million
2002 9.2 million
2001 8.7 million

PREAKNESS ON ABC (1993-2000)

Year Viewers

2000 5.5 million
1999 4.9 million
1998 5.2 million
1997 6.9 million
1996 5.1 million
1995 4.7 million
1994 6.5 million
1993 7.0 million



“Broadcasting two hours of pregame seems a bit much for a two-minute horse race, unless you’re talking about NBC’s coverage of Saturday’s Preakness. The network has this horse racing thing down pat…The two hours fly by, and the coverage is so good that it’s almost a little disappointing that it has to end when the race arrives… All in all, it was an outstanding two hours of coverage. And this praise comes from someone who is not even a horse racing fan. But good television is good television, and NBC’s coverage of horse racing is the definition of good television.” – St. Petersburg Times, 5-23-11

Bob Costas’ pre-Preakness interview with Animal Kingdom’s manager, part-owner, straight-talking spokesman, Barry Irwin, Saturday on NBC, would make a strong case study for pure professionalism and its rewards. Irwin, after his horse won the Kentucky Derby, essentially accused the thoroughbred industry of being loaded with liars and assorted bad guys. Saturday, without apologizing, Costas asked good, tough questions, and Irwin returned them with good, firm answers.” – NY Post, 5-23-11

BELMONT STAKES NEXT: NBC Sports Group presents 6½ hours of coverage of the 143rd Belmont Stakes beginning Friday, June 10 as Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom and Preakness Stakes winner Shackleford could face each other.


Fri. June 10, Belmont Classics, 4-5 p.m., VERSUS
Fri. June 10, Live from Belmont, 5-6 p.m., VERSUS
Sat. June 11, Live from Belmont, 3-5 p.m., VERSUS
Sat. June 11, Belmont Stakes, 5-7 p.m., NBC
Sat. June 11, Belmont Wrap-up, 7-7:30 p.m., VERSUS

NBC SPORTS AND HORSE RACING: The NBC Sports Group is now the exclusive home to Horse Racing’s Triple Crown. This marks the first time that all three races will be on one network since NBC last aired the Triple Crown in 2005. NBC has been the exclusive home of the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes since 2001.



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