2010 Kentucky Derby is Most Watched in 21 Years

LOUISVILLE, KY.: The final numbers for NBC’s coverage of last Saturday’s Kentucky Derby are in, and they look good. The network averaged 16.5 million viewers for “the most exciting two minutes in sports,” as it’s come to be called. The previous high mark for the race was in 1989, when 18.5 million people tuned in, according to Nielsen.

The race netted a 9.8 rating and a 23 share. The rating tied last year’s (which accounted for slightly fewer households), and both were the best since ABC’s 1992 coverage of the Derby, which logged a 10.3, the Louisville Courier-Journal said.

The run for the roses at Churchill Downs pulled in its best overnight rating in 20 years. The overnights, gleaned from 50 metro markets, yielded a 10.3, one percentage point higher than last year’s race.

Jockey Calvin Borel brought three-year-old Super Saver through a rain-soaked sloppy track to win the 136th Kentucky Derby by two-and-a-half lengths. (ESPN has video of the race here.) The event made him a three-time Derby winner, having taken last year’s event by six and three-quarters lengths on Mine That Bird. He also won in 2007 on Street Sense.

NBC will also televise the Preakness Stakes, the second race in the Triple Crown, from Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore. The third race--the Belmont--will be televised by ABC and ESPN. NBC is said to be in talks with Derby officials to renew broadcast rights for the race, which expire this year.
-- Deborah D. McAdams

(Image courtesy of Kentucky Tourism)