National Belmont TV Ratings Slump 22%

ABC Sports picked a tough time to get back into the Triple Crown business. Without Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro and Preakness victor Bernardini, the Belmont Stakes was left without a star attraction, and that was reflected in national television ratings for the June 10 running from New York.

ABC reported a preliminary national rating of 3.5, down 22% from the 4.5 NBC registered in its national from a year ago. For comparison sake, when Smarty Jones vied for the Triple Crown two years ago, the national number lit up at 11.3.

ABC is affiliated with the ESPN family of networks under the Disney banner, and according to ABC Sports spokesperson Mark Mandel, ESPN, which now handles the business side of ABC Sports, does not report share numbers--the percentage of televisions tuned to its programming at any one time.

For national figures, each ratings point equals approximately 1.1 million viewers, giving the Belmont telecast an audience of 3.85 million. In 2000, the last time the Belmont had neither the Kentucky Derby or Preakness winner racing, ABC registered a 3.1 national rating.