As American Pharoah prepares to run for the Triple Crown this Saturday, NBC and the New York Racing Association found the perfect time to get into handshake mode for a long-term agreement for the Belmont Stakes. The NBC Sports Group has announced a contract extension for the Belmont which the New York Times’ Richard Sandomir says will run through the 2020 edition. This means that NBC has locked up the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont into the next decade leaving only the Preakness without a Peacock renewal.
No financial terms of the deal were disclosed, but under the contract, NBC will not only air the Belmont on television, but also broadcast the race on radio and distribute the event worldwide.
Last year’s Belmont with California Chrome’s unsuccessful Triple Crown bid attracted 20.5 million viewers so as American Pharoah runs for one of sports’ most difficult tasks, NBC can expect a viewership on-par or perhaps even surpassing last year’s race.
As we’ve documented here, interest in the Belmont practically triples when the Triple Crown is on the line and wanes when there’s no championship horse in the running. NBC has aired the Belmont from 2001-2005 and again from 2011 through this year with ESPN/ABC taking the contract between 2006-2010.
So NBC will concentrate on renewing the Preakness and keeping the Triple Crown on the network intact. NBC has to negotiate individually with the organizations controlling each leg of the Triple Crown.
The races have been broken up and broadcast on different networks as in 2006-2010 when NBC carried the Kentucky Derby and Preakness and ESPN/ABC aired the Belmont. However, it is better when all of the legs of the Triple Crown are aired on one network.