The final television rating for the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) climbed 61 percent to a 4.5 rating and the combined rating for the Triple Crown series rose 49 percent to a combined 6.1 rating, according to NBC Sports.
The Belmont rating, which also included a 13 percent market share compared to 9 percent last year, ties 1991 and 1992 as the highest for a non-Triple Crown year since 1990 when Go and Go's victory earned a 5.3 rating. Last year, the rating plunged to 2.8 because the Belmont field lacked both the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and Preakness (gr. I) winners. The 2000 rating also suffered when compared with the rare string of three consecutive Triple Crown bids that occurred from 1997 through 1999.
NBC Sports first year broadcasting the Triple Crown has been highly successful. The final rating for the Kentucky Derby was up 41 percent to 8.1 and the final Preakness rating rose 56 percent to 5.6. The Triple Crown benefited by not running head-to-head with the NBA playoffs, which occurred when the races were telecast by ABC. NBC also began promoting the Triple Crown throughout its daytime programming beginning in March.
"The Triple Crown was never promoted like this before and moving the post times back a half-hour also played a key role," said Dick Ebersol, chairman of NBC Sports & Olympics. "We were able to take a series of terrific events and grow the audience significantly."
Tom Meeker, president of Triple Crown Productions, said the partnership between NBC and Visa truly delivered.
"It is an auspicious start for what we're positive will be a long and successful relationship between NBC Sports, Visa and the Triple Crown, and again points out the popularity of the Triple Crown races."