Without Smarty, NBC's Preakness Ratings Drop

NBC Sports' television broadcast of the 130th running of the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) averaged a 5.1/13 national rating/share, down sharply from last year when Smarty Jones captured the middle leg of the Triple Crown, but up slightly from the same figures for 2003.

The 5.1 rating dropped 16.4% from the 2004 broadcast, which earned the company a 6.1/15 rating/market share. The rating is up 2% from 2003 when the network had a 5.0/13 posting. NBC also reported that the "pre-race" rating averaged a 3.5, while the race segment itself rated a significantly higher 6.3.

NBC Spokesperson Alana Russo said that 1.096 million households make up one rating point. Calling the 2004 Smarty Jones telecast ratings an "anomaly," Russo said the more accurate comparison would be the immediate years preceding that year's Preakness.

"The five-year average rating for 2001-2005 for NBC's broadcasts of the Preakness is a 5.5--a 41% increase over the last five years the race was broadcast on ABC (3.9 average from 1996-2000)," said Russo. Russo also added that NBC produced the five highest rated Preakness broadcasts to air since 1992.

NBC will also televise the June 11 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) from Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y. A recent deal between the New York Racing Association and executives at ABC ensures that the third and longest race of the series will move to that network in 2006.

Still, Russo said NBC remains confident.

"It's always tough when you don't have a Triple Crown contender as we did last year and the year before, but Afleet Alex is obviously another great story," said Russo. "We'll have to wait and see what happens but we're confident we will offer a great broadcast."