Belmont Overnight TV Ratings Slump

Belmont Overnight TV Ratings Slump
Photo: Rick Samuels
Historic Belmont seen by fewer viewers.
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Overnight television ratings for ABC's coverage of the June 9 Belmont Stakes from New York slumped 14% from the modest levels of a year ago.

The two-hour telecast from 5-7 p.m. EDT registered a 3.1 rating and a 7 share, down from a 3.6 in 2006. In overnight ratings, each ratings point equals 770,000 viewers, and the share refers to the percentage of TVs in use that were tuned to the program.

The program, which featured a thrilling victory by the filly Rags to Riches, showed a continued decline from 2005, the last year NBC televised all three Triple Crown races. NBC registered a 5.0 for the 2005 Belmont.

This year's telecast drew a 1.8 rating in the pre-race segment from 5-5:30, and a 3.5 for the 5:30-7 p.m. race segment. The Belmont still drew more viewers than most other sporting events shown over the weekend. Regional baseball telecasts on FOX June 9 measured a 2.2 rating. PGA golf on CBS registered a 1.4, and French Open tennis on NBC returned a 1.8. ABC's coverage of the NBA Finals the following evening drew a 6.9.

The leading markets for the Belmont were: 1) Louisville, 8.0/17; 2) West Palm Beach 6.0/13; 3) Cleveland 5.8/14; 4) Baltimore 5.2/12; and 5) Pittsburgh 5.2/12.

ABC's contract to televise the Belmont Stakes has now run its two-year course, the maximum length of time the New York Racing Association could negotiate given its license to run racing in New York expires at the end of 2007.

In related ratings news, ABC's telecast of its Ruffian television movie drew a 2.9 rating and 5 share June 9 from 9-11 p.m. EDT. The movie, which documented the story of the brilliant race filly from the 1970s, finished third in its time slot behind "American's Most Wanted" on FOX (3.7) and "Die Another Day," a film on CBS that drew a 4.1. NBC showed "Scary Movie," which registered a 1.9. 

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