Despite heavy competition from Tiger Woods and The Masters golf tournament, NBC's live coverage of the Toyota Bluegrass Stakes (gr. I) produced solid television ratings.
The 1 1/2-hour program earned a 1.1 rating and attracted 3% of television viewers the afternoon of April 13. Interest progressed throughout the broadcast. The first half hour earned a 0.9 rating, the next half hour rose to 1.2, and during the race coverage from 5:30-6 p.m. the rating spiked to 1.3. Each rating point is equal to about 1.2 million households, so about 1.4 million households tuned in for the last half hour of the show.
"We are very pleased by these ratings and think they serve as a good harbinger for success as the Triple Crown telecasts grow near," said Chip Campbell, senior vice president of media and sponsorship for the NTRA. "The Masters aside, we outdid much of the competition and held our own against comparable programming from the NBA and elsewhere during a very competitive sports weekend."
The Masters on CBS dominated the afternoon with a rating of 6.4 and a 17% market share. The only other competition from sports programming during the NBCs Bluegrass telecast was the World Short Track Championships for speedskating on ABC, which earned a 0.7 and 2% market share. More telling of how the Bluegrass fared were two afternoon NBA games April 14 on NBC. A 3 p.m. game between the Charlotte Hornets and the Milwaukee Bucks earned a rating of 1.3, while a high-scoring showdown between the Los Angeles Lakes and Portland Trail Blazers earned a 2.1.
The Bluegrass telecast also featured a replay of the Wood Memorial (gr. I) and an analysis by racing commentators and handicappers of the Kentucky Derby's leading contenders.