Kentucky Derby on NBC Draws 7.4 Rating

NBC Sports' broadcast of Smarty Jones' win in the 130th Kentucky Derby was watched by 17 million -the second-biggest Derby audience since 1992 and an increase of 17% over last year's total audience of 14.5 million viewers, according to NBC Sports Research estimates.

Eighteen million watched NBC's Derby coverage of Monarchos' win in 2001. Nineteen million tuned in for Lil E Tee's victory in 1992.

The 7.4 national rating/18 share for the total telecast (5-6:46 p.m. ET) represents a 16% improvement over last year's 6.4/17 (5-6:33 p.m. ET), according to Nielsen Media Research.

The 7.4 rating ties the 1996 rating for Grindstone's win as the second-highest national rating since 1994. NBC's 8.1 rating in 2001 is the highest Kentucky Derby rating since an 8.9 in 1992. The 1994 Kentucky Derby, won by Go For Gin, delivered a 7.5.

Since acquiring the rights to the Visa Triple Crown beginning in 2001, NBC has delivered average Kentucky Derby viewership of 16.5 million over four races, 22% better than the prior four years on ABC, which generated an average Derby audience of 13.5 million.

"The 17 million viewers for the Derby represent a continuation of the remarkable performance of this great event over the past four years," said Ken Schanzer, president of NBC Sports. "The magnitude of the audience is testimony to the strength of the Visa Triple Crown. The great story of Smarty Jones that emerged from the Derby should propel terrific viewership going forward."

The rating peaked at a 10.8/26 from 6-6:30 p.m. ET – 27% higher than last year's 8.5/21 from 6-6:30 p.m. ET when Funny Cide hit the wire.

The race segment (5:44-6:46 p.m. ET) produced a 9.3 national rating / 22 share, up 22% from last year's 7.6/20 (5:30-6:33 p.m. ET). The pre-race (5-5:45 p.m. ET) generated a 5.0/13, 22% better than last year's 4.1/12 from 5-5:30 p.m. ET.