The solid overnight ratings for the first edition of the Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes (G1) could be something to build on for future editions of the event as organizers hope one day television rights provide revenues for the stakeholders.
BloodHorse's Lenny Shulman reported Jan. 29 that the 4:30 to 6 p.m. NBC broadcast of the Jan. 28 Pegasus from Gulfstream Park earned a 1.23 overnight rating, which is the highest rating for a non-Triple Crown afternoon horse race since the 2015 Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) that featured American Pharoah's final race.
The primetime 2016 Breeders' Cup Classic, the first battle between Arrogate and California Chrome, drew a 1.64 overnight rating on NBC.
When the organizers of the Pegasus look at continuing the race long-term, and making it a profitable venture for The Stronach Group and the shareholders who each put up $1 million to compete in the race and share in revenue from television, sponsorships, and wagering generated by the event, that type of television money is key to their vision.
Gulfstream Park president Tim Ritvo acknowledged that if television ratings do well, the event could soon see an additional revenue stream that could help it thrive going forward.
"The true measurement from The Stronach Group perspective is, 'What would the television ratings be?'" Ritvo said before the race. "And the true return for the partners in future years is what is this worth on television, what would we be paid for to have it, what would it be for NBC, Fox, and ESPN or ABC to compete against each other to try to buy it, and also sponsorship value?"
This year Gulfstream paid for the 1 1/2-hour broadcast on NBC. There will be no money for the shareholders from television this year, but Ritvo hopes the broadcast draws high ratings that help it become a property that networks want to pay for the broadcast rights.
"We're hoping that by having good ratings (that) next year networks would be bidding on it, and we would be able to get more revenue," Ritvo said before the race, adding that television pays for broadcasts like the Triple Crown races. "What we would like to do is get into that mix so that they think that it's worth covering and that they can sell spots and everything else. So hopefully in the future years, NBC or ABC or ESPN or Fox or one of these networks will be able to pay. And that money would be divided up equally between the partners.
"Also as television ratings improve, sponsorship will improve, and that money will be divided up between the partners the same as the purse revenue."
The 1.23 overnight rating, which translates to about a million people, probably isn't there yet, but perhaps networks will view the number as a good enough start to make an investment.