Kentucky Derby Nets NBC Best Number in 18 Years

LOUISVILLE, KY. and LAS VEGAS, NEV.: Saturday was a big sports day for TV; one that didn’t involve football or the final four. The Kentucky Derby drew an 18-year record overnight number for NBC, and the pay-per-view buy rate for the Mayweather-Mosley fight is expected to bump previous high-water marks as well.

The run for the roses at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., pulled in its best TV rating since 1992 according to NBC. The network’s coverage of the Kentucky Derby scored a 10.3 in overnight ratings gleaned from more than 50 metropolitan television markets. The number was a percentage point higher than last year’s ratings for the Derby, which ultimately turned out to be the most-watched in 20 years.

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 buy rate for Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s welterweight defeat of Shane Mosley on pay-per-view Saturday night hasn’t been released, but predictions went as high as 3 million to 4 million. That was the number put forth by Richard Schaefer of Golden Boy Promotions, according to Boxing Scene. Schaefer’s number seemed wildly huge compared to the standing record of 2.4 million buys for the 2007 bout between Mayweather and Oscar de la Hoya. However, Schaefer forecast that fight as a record-breaker, and was right again last year when he said the Mayweather-Marquez match would generate at least 1 million buys.

Six Mayweather fights have generated 5.5 million buys and a total of $292 million in revenues, USA Today said. HBO’s suggested retail price for the Saturday event was around $55.

-- Deborah D. McAdams