Television ratings were down but Web traffic was up for ESPN's maiden voyage covering the Breeders' Cup World Championships.
The Nov. 4 event from Churchill Downs drew an overnight rating of .9 on ESPN from noon-5:45 EST. For overnight figures, each ratings point represents approximately 770,000 households. That figure is down almost 50% from last year's overnights, when NBC reported a 1.7 rating for the Breeders' Cup. Both last year's number, and now this year's, represented all-time lows in the 23-year history of the Breeders' Cup.
The SportsCenter segment of Breeders' Cup coverage, which originated from Churchill Downs, registered a .6 overnight for the 5:45-7 p.m. time slot.
Louisville was the highest-rated market nationally on the ESPN overnights, checking in with a 3.1 rating. In addition, the local Louisville ABC affiliate, WHAS, which simulcast the Breeders' Cup, turned in a 4.7 overnight. Other leading markets on ESPN included Phoenix, with a 2.1, and Las Vegas, with a 1.9 rating.
It was a rosier picture on ESPN.com, which offered coverage of the Breeders' Cup. ESPN reported 428,000 page views of its horse racing content on the day, which represented a 68% increase from last year. ESPN said leading up to the Breeders' Cup that it was concentrating on reaching consumers where they consume, and was intent on broadening its coverage to other platforms to reach potentially new horse racing fans.
"The overnights are in line with expectations and consistent with the switch to cable," said Chip Campbell, NTRA senior vice president of sponsorship and television. "ESPN's overall promotion of the event was excellent and the business results, including double-digit increase in handle, speak for themselves."
The Breeders' Cup on ESPN competed with sports programming on ABC, NBC, and CBS. Regional college football coverage from noon-3:30 EST on ABC netted a 3.3 overnight, with golf coverage from 3:30-7 yielding a 1.4 rating. CBS telecast the LSU-Tennessee football game from 3:30-7 and returned a 3.9 rating. On NBC, North Carolina-Notre Dame did a 2.7 from 2:45-6.
National ratings are due out Tuesday.