With Always Dreaming winning the Kentucky Derby, NBC saw a 10.5 overnight rating for the Run for the Roses. That’s the 2nd-highest overnight rating for the Derby dating back to 1992 and according to Sports Media Watch, it only trails the 2015 race which was won by American Pharoah. That year, NBC saw a 10.9 overnight number.

And for NBC, the good news is that the three highest overnight ratings for the Derby since 1992 have come in the last five years. This year’s race finished 14% higher than last year which had a 9.3. The Kentucky Derby has the highest overnight rating for a 2017 sporting event since the NCAA Championship game on CBS.

The top markets for the race portion of the telecast (6:30 – 7:15 p.m. ET) were as follows:

  1. Louisville — 39.0/65
  2. Ft. Myers — 21.3/39
  3. Cincinnati — 18.8/37
  4. Buffalo — 17.9/31
  5. Knoxville — 17.0/28
  6. Dayton — 16.2/29
  7. Pittsburgh — 15.5/30
  8. Cleveland 15.1/29
  9. Richmond 15.0/29
  10. West Palm Beach 14.8

So with NBC promoting the Kentucky Derby not just on its sports platforms, but on the Today show and other non-sports networks, it was able to raise some interest and bring viewers back to the race this year. It’s all part of NBC’s “Big Event” strategy to surround the Derby with as much promotion as possible. We’ve seen it on the Super Bowl and the Olympics and it’s brought NBC some success with increased viewership.

And NBC is hoping that it can bring the ratings momentum to the Preakness Stakes, the second leg of the Triple Crown on May 20.

[Sports Media Watch]

About Ken Fang

Ken has been covering the sports media in earnest at his own site, Fang's Bites since May 2007 and at Awful Announcing since March 2013.

He provides a unique perspective having been an award-winning radio news reporter in Providence and having worked in local television.

Fang celebrates the three Boston Red Sox World Championships in the 21st Century, but continues to be a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan.