Chad B. Harmon

Derby TV Ratings Tick Upward

NBC's coverage of Super Saver's win witnessed by 16.5 million

Viewership for NBC’s May 1 telecast of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) edged up over last year’s numbers, according to data provided by The Nielsen Company. The two-hour program from 5-7 p.m. ET earned a 9.8 national rating and a 23 share, compared to 2009’s 9.8/22. The 9.8 rating equates to 16.5 million viewers, up from 16.3 a year ago. The share relates to the percentage of televisions in use that were tuned to the program.

Super Saver’s victory was witnessed by the biggest television viewing audience since 1989, when 18.5 million viewers watched Sunday Silence defeat Easy Goer. The last Derby to garner higher rating numbers was the 1992 edition won by Lil E. Tee, which notched a 10.3/30. This year’s numbers represented an 11% increase over two year’s ago, when Big Brown attracted ratings of 8.8/21.

Since the Kentucky Derby moved to NBC in 2001, viewership has ranged from about 12 million to this year’s 16.5 million. The previous nine years, when the Derby was presented by ABC, viewership ranged from 9 million to almost 14 million.

NBC will televise the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) May 15 beginning at 4:30 p.m. ET from Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore.