Good Racing, and Good Ratings

Another Triple Crown series is in the books.  Who among us could have predicted during Derby week that the sport’s leading three-year-old stars heading into the second half of the year would be Animal Kingdom, Shackleford and yesterday’s Belmont winner, Ruler on Ice?

Belmont Park is to be commended for being such fine hosts to the 55,000+ who braved less than ideal weather Saturday.  When it comes to staging big events, the New York Racing Association takes a backseat to no one in our industry.  I also think Belmont’s Director of Racing Surfaces, Glen Kozak, deserves a special mention for what was not just a thrilling day of racing, but a safe one as well.

Those who took in the Belmont Stakes excitement from the comfort of their living room were treated to the customary fine coverage on NBC and Versus.  Congratulations to Tom Hammond, Gary Stevens, Bob Costas and the entire team at NBC Sports for three compelling telecasts.  And I thought that Triple Crown “rookie” Larry Collmus did a terrific job calling the races.  It must have been a bit unnerving for Collmus to follow a legend like Tom Durkin.  But he showed that NBC made a very fine choice following Durkin’s decision to step away.

Apparently plenty of other people liked what they saw on NBC as well.  Overnight ratings released Sunday revealed a 4.8 overnight rating and an 11 share for the race portion of yesterday’s NBC telecast.  The 4.8 overnight rating works out to about 7 million viewers, and the share number reflects the percentage of televisions in use that were tuned to the Belmont.  Those overnight ratings (which measure major market audiences) represented a 55 percent increase compared to last year’s Belmont Stakes.  Final ratings (which also take into account smaller markets) will be announced on Tuesday.  No matter what those Tuesday numbers indicate, I think this year’s Triple Crown series was definitely boosted by the continuity of having all three races on one network.  In all, an estimated 30.3 million viewers watched the 2011 Triple Crown on NBC. It also prospered from the healthy share of promotion NBC and its various other platforms devoted to the races.  One certainly couldn’t watch any of the Stanley Cup playoffs without being frequently reminded about the next big race coming up.  I wonder what Versus will do to fill the extra time now that the Triple Crown is over and Vancouver and Boston are still battling away.

Seriously, though, my heartiest congratulations go out to NYRA, NBC and Ruler on Ice’s owners George and Lori Hall—who have put their heart, soul and a healthy portion of their bank account into our game.

What memories will you take from this year’s Triple Crown races?  And what did you think of NBC’s coverage?  I’d love to read your thoughts.


Leave a Comment:

Fran Loszynski

I thought the coverage by NBC was great hope they do the series again next year. Loved New York New York back as the horees and jockeys came out! Ruler on Ice ran a great race and Johnnie V. need not be upset by the outcome. He did a fabulous job staying in the saddle and bringing Animal Kingdom almost to the finish line after all that, this is where you see the pro jockeys hit it. Johnnie V. is a tremendous jockey. The fact Animal Kingdom was not hurt and he himself was not hurt-well there it is "one of the greatest jockeys of all time!" It is always awesome to watch Edgar Prado and Johnnie V. Hope Nehro's leg gets better, Shackleford you are the second-coming of Secretariat, and Animal Kingdom you are just plain awesome. Now next year we'll be watching the Triple Crown winner from Afleet Alex's kids yes indeed !

13 Jun 2011 3:04 PM

The Triple Crown series this year was good even though a triple crown was not on the line.  Thought NBC did a great job hyping it as a rematch.  Too bad the weather didnt cooperate and some experienced bad luck in the race. The first seven runners in the Derby back in the Belmont I thought was big. It would have been an even bigger blow if Animal Kingdom had been going for the triple when his hopes were dashed at the start.

I like it that NBC/Versus has all three races and ties things together.  Bob Costas has become the new Jim MacKay in this era.  

Let's get the drug issues and size of derby field figured out and things will be fine.  Let's hope all the injured horses heal and return in the fall or next year.  

13 Jun 2011 3:30 PM

did enjoy the coverage, however was alittle dismayed at Mr. Moss and his post race analysis. Specifically, thought it was unnecessary to diminish the winners' pedigree with a dismissive swipe at Saratoga Six, and ignoring the rest of the pedigree.[I know Randy that the same arguement mite be said of let's see...Smarty Jones, Uncle Mo?! He proceded to toss the notion that Master of Hounds' break may have caused his inability to put out a better effort. He casually said[paraphrase], he got back into the race soon there after. And let's not forget the swipe he took at this 3yo. crop in general with his matter of fact declaration that it was obvious from the 3 races in the Triple Crown that this was the case. Randy, take a breath, just because you have some fill in time, let's not toss out opinions and paint them as  the axioms of the sport

13 Jun 2011 4:43 PM

I enjoyed most of the coverage by NBC. They always do the best job by Belmont Stakes time. There is no silly "celebrity frivolity," by then like they insist on doing in the coverage of the Kentucky Derby. The horses are the celebrities here, not Hollywood folks and pro-athletes. Bob Costas has gotten much better over the years and he did a fine job this year. I do not miss ESPN's Kenny Mayne and his sarcasm at all. Larry Collmus did do a terrific job of race calling. I was surprised to see shots of Rick Dutrow at the races. The allegations against him are very serious and I don't see why he was even allowed at the track last Saturday or why he is continuing to train horses. Versus was saying that they would air a half-hour show after the race but we didn't get that here. We got race cars instead. All in all, coverage was good and the horses were wonderful.

13 Jun 2011 4:45 PM
Susan W.

Every year I am glued to the television screen for the three Triple Crown races and all coverage, but this year was quite different --- I attended, in person, all three races.  All three tracks, all three experiences, were very special and wonderful.  Belmont Park and the NYRA are definitely to be commended for making the 2011 Belmont Stakes Day such a treat for the horse racing fan.

14 Jun 2011 5:32 AM

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