Big Brown in the Derby winner's circle.<br><a target="blank" href="">Order This Photo</a>

Big Brown in the Derby winner's circle.
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Skip Dickstein

Derby Second Most Viewed in 17 Years

Kentucky Derby was viewed in last four years and second most watched in last 17 years

NBC Sports' coverage of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) May 3 was the most viewed Kentucky Derby in four years (Smarty Jones, 2004) ,and second most viewed in at least 17 years.  The race (5:43-6:39 p.m. ET) averaged 14.2 million viewers, up 3% from 2007 (13.8 million).

NBC's Kentucky Derby coverage has averaged three million more viewers (13.4-10.5), a 28% increase since 2001 when NBC began exclusive coverage of the Kentucky Derby, over the eight years prior on ABC.

The network’s race coverage notched an 8.8 national rating and a 21 share, even with last year's race that was fueled by the mainstream media coverage of the Queen of England's first visit to Churchill Downs.

In two weeks, Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown with jockey Kent Desormeaux will try to become the first to win the Triple Crown in 30 years, since Affirmed in 1978. NBC Sports' coverage of the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) from Pimlico Racecourse in Baltimore, Md. begins May 17 at 4:30 p.m. ET.

Viewership for the complete broadcast and the pre-race segment are expected May 8, when national ratings become available.