With help from a later start, the final hour-plus of the Kentucky Derby telecast outdrew last year's by about 40 percent. NBC Sports' debut broadcast under a five-year, $51.5 million deal to air thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown series produced a 9.2 national rating from 5:30 to 6:42 p.m. EDT Saturday.
That's 39 percent higher than the 6.6 national rating from 4:59 to 6:04 p.m. EDT for the 2000 Derby on ABC, which had aired the past 26 Runs for the Roses.
NBC moved the traditional 5:30 p.m. EDT post time to 6:07 p.m. in an effort to draw more viewers. The network also figured ratings for the Derby on ABC and NBA playoff games on NBC had been hurt in the past by having to go head-to-head.
The Derby was followed Saturday on NBC by Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinal between San Antonio and Dallas, which drew a 4.4 national rating. That's 26 percent better than last year's Game 1 between Philadelphia and Indiana, which went up against the Derby.
Each national rating point represents a little more than 1 million U.S. TV homes.