A view of the first turn of the 149th running of the Kentucky Derby.

While this year’s Kentucky Derby may not end up being the most memorable one, it was the most-watched sporting event since Super Bowl LVII.

With controversy surrounding Churchill Downs, as seven horses died in the lead-up to the 149th Kentucky Derby, NBC’s coverage averaged nearly 15 million viewers. 

NBC saw its coverage peak at 16.6 million viewers, right when Mage crossed the finish line, overtaking Two Phil’s down the stretch, to win the 2023 Derby. Additionally, this year’s Kentucky Derby was the most streamed horse race ever, as Peacock provided a big boost for NBC’s viewership, with those numbers up 50 percent from last year’s Derby.

On the flip side, the race portion of the derby was actually the least watched on linear television since 2008 aside from the race that was delayed due to COVID.

Here are some other facts and figures around the Kentucky Derby, according to an NBC release.

    • With 14.8 million viewers, the 2023 Kentucky Derby is NBC Sports’ 14th consecutive presentation of the “Run for the Roses” to top 14.5 million viewers (excludes 2020 event which was held in Sept.).
    • Viewership peaked at 16.6 million viewers from 7-7:15 p.m. ET on NBC, as Mage took the lead in the homestretch and won by a length. Mage is only the third horse to win the Kentucky Derby without racing as a two-year old, joining 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify, and Apollo (1882).
    • The TV-only average audience of 14.4 million viewers is NBC’s most-watched program since the NFL Playoffs in January.
    • Led by Peacock, the event posted a record Average Minute Audience (AMA) of 371,000 viewers across NBCUniversal streaming platforms – up 50% from last year (247,000).
    • The NBC-TV household rating for the broadcast (6:31-7:21 p.m. ET) was a 6.9/24.

Kentucky Derby winner Mage will attempt the step in his quest for a Triple Crown. The most recent winner of the American Triple Crown was Justify in 2018. NBC, who were the real winners of this past weekend’s Derby, will look to cash in again in two weeks, as the 148th Preakness Stakes will be shown on NBC Sports on May 20.

Perhaps the fact that Mage has a chance to vie for the 14th Triple Crown in race history will draw in a significant viewership for NBC.


About Sam Neumann

Sam is a 2021 graduate of Temple University who has previously worked for other publications such as The Clemson Insider, Jets Wire and OwlScoop.com. He's a Charlotte native, who currently resides in Greenville, South Carolina, and is unfortunately a big Mets and Jets fan.