NBC Sports' coverage of Saturday's 136th Belmont Stakes June 5 generated the event's highest overnight rating in 27 years. The Belmont win by 36-1 shot Birdstone ended previously unbeaten Smarty Jones' Visa Triple Crown hopes and delivered a 13.4 overnight rating / 27 share, the best Belmont overnight since a 15.4/47 for Seattle Slew's Triple Crown-clinching victory in 1977, according to Nielsen Media Research. The 13.4/27 (5:30-7:15 p.m. ET) represents a 29% improvement over last year's 10.4/22. The race segment (6:15-7:15 p.m.) generated a 15.6/31 overnight rating, an improvement of 32% over last year's 11.8/25.
"It was America's love affair with Smarty Jones that got us the highest Belmont rating in 27 years," said Dick Ebersol, chairman of NBC Universal Sports & Olympics. "I am incredibly proud of the telecast, but more importantly the opportunity after the race to show what I think was the best display of grace and sportsmanship by both winners and losers that I may have ever seen at a sports event. America could learn a lot about sportsmanship from what happened in the 15 minutes after the race."Saturday's pre-race segment (5:30-6:15 p.m.) generated a 10.4/22, 37% better than last year's 7.6/17 from 5:30-6 p.m.The top-rated individual markets for Saturday's 6:15-7:15 p.m. race segment were: 1) Philadelphia 28.1/46; 2) Louisville 24.3/47; 3) Baltimore 24.1/42; 4) West Palm Beach 23.1/40; 5) Fort Myers 21.1/38; 6) New York 20.7/37; 7) Oklahoma City 20.6/38; 8) Orlando 20.1/37; 9) Pittsburgh 19.9/36; 10) Tampa 19.3/34.
National ratings for the race segment are expected Tuesday while full telecast nationals are expected Thursday.