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Raven's Pass' Classic win highlighted Saturday's Breeders' Cup telecast.
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Rick Samuels

Breeders' Cup TV Ratings Rise Slightly

Television ratings for the Oct. 24-25 Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Santa Anita Park were up slightly from a year ago, according to ABC/ESPN figures.

For the first time, the two-day event was broadcast on three separate channels, with the Friday., Oct. 24 Ladies Day card carried on ESPN2, and the Saturday, Oct. 25 races telecast first on ABC and then on ESPN.

ABC/ESPN reported final national ratings for the nine-plus hours of coverage over the two days of .7, up 11% from a .6 rating in 2007. Since the Breeders’ Cup moved to the ESPN family of channels in 2006, television ratings have remained well below the numbers reported by NBC, which previously televised the event. In 2005, for instance, NBC reported a 1.7 rating for its Breeders’ Cup coverage.

Ratings for the Friday telecast on ESPN2 came in at .3. For the ABC portion of Saturday’s telecast from 1-3:30 p.m. EDT, the program registered a 1.0 rating. From 3:30-7:15 p.m. on ESPN, the rating was .9. In 2007, the Saturday telecast on ESPN came in at .8.

ABC/ESPN claimed a total audience number of 19,776,000 that watched some portion of this year’s telecast, up from 12,237,000 a year ago, though those numbers are believed to be much higher than the viewership that watched the entire programs. About 1.56 million such viewers watched ABC’s portion of Saturday’s telecast, and 1.2 million viewers saw ESPN’s part of that day’s telecast.

“With the expanded two-day format and the addition of ABC, we achieved one of this year's main objectives -- to showcase the World Championships to a significantly larger audience," Greg Avioli, Breeders' Cup president and CEO said in a release from ESPN. "We thank our partners at ESPN for a tremendous production and outstanding promotion leading up to the event."
"These 'poll' numbers mean The Breeders’ Cup on ESPN and ABC is the big winner in 2008, "said Len DeLuca, senior Vice president of programming and acquisitions, ESPN. ”We'll continue to work with Greg Avioli's team to grow horse racing's biggest two days."

Friday's card on ESPN2 drew an average of 356,000 viewers.

NBC's last Breeders' Cup telecast in 2005 attracted about 2 million viewers.