According to data provided by The Nielsen Company, NBC Sports’ June 11 telecast of the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) from Belmont Park was watched by 6.8 million viewers, who saw 24-1 longshot Ruler On Ice splash through the mud to win the third jewel of Thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown.
With no possibility of a Triple Crown winner in 2011 after Animal Kingdom won the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) and Shackleford took the Preakness Stakes (gr. I), the Belmont viewership numbers were substantially lower than the 14.5 million viewers who watched this year’s Derby and the 8.8 million who saw the Preakness on NBC, which telecast all three legs of the Triple Crown for the first time since 2005.
The race portion of the Belmont, from 6:08-6:55 p.m. ET, improved its numbers by 44% over a year ago, when ABC televised the Belmont and drew 4.7 million viewers. The 2011 figures also bested the numbers from 2009, when jockey Calvin Borel was going for his personal Triple Crown aboard Mine That Bird, by 3% (6.8 million vs. 6.6 million).
The race portion of the 2011 Belmont earned a national household rating of 4.3 with a 10 share, up 43% from 2010 numbers of 3.0/7, and slightly less than 2009’s rating of 4.4/11. The share represents the percentage of televisions in use that were tuned to the broadcast.
The pre-race portion of the telecast, from 5-6:08 p.m. ET, attracted 3.4 million viewers, compared to 1.9 million a year ago.
Overall, the two-hour Belmont show registered a 3.1/8 and 4.8 million viewers, up from last year’s 2.7/7 and 4.2 million viewers on ABC.
In 2008, the last year when a horse was going for the Triple Crown at the Belmont, Big Brown’s failed pursuit drew 13.1 million viewers on ABC.