According to data supplied by Nielsen Media Research, both "Long John Silver's Wire to Wire," the NTRA's weekly magazine show, and "CITGO Racing to the Kentucky Derby," the series that presents key VISA Triple Crown prep races, each airing on the ESPN networks, have increased their audiences dramatically this year. "Wire to Wire" is up 118 percent through the end of February and "Racing to the Kentucky Derby" posting increases of 95 percent, 82 percent, 86 percent and 12 percent for the four shows that have aired through March 16.This past weekend, "CITGO Racing to the Kentucky Derby" coverage of the Florida Derby drew more households (381,000) than did the Big 12 Conference college basketball tournament game that preceded it on ESPN2 (371,000). With a tennis lead-in, Sunday's program featuring the San Felipe Stakes, the Gotham Stakes and the Tampa Bay Derby attracted more households (237,000 vs. 204,000) than did the NHL game that followed racing on ESPN2."Wire to Wire," which was re-branded and remodeled in 2002, and which switched telecast days this year, airs Tuesdays from 2:00-2:30 p.m. on ESPN2, with an encore presentation on Saturdays, from 5:30-6:00 a.m. on ESPN. "CITGO Racing to the Kentucky Derby," a nine-program series airing between mid-February and late April, features the premier VISA Triple Crown preps from the nation's leading racetracks. Kenny Mayne, the popular ESPN SportsCenter anchor and NFL features reporter, joined the show as its host this year. Also new to the CITGO broadcast crew this year is longtime ESPN contributor Hank Goldberg, who serves as a reporter.Launched just prior to last year's Kentucky Derby, "Wire to Wire" succeeded the long-running "Racehorse Digest" and offered new animation, signage, music and a redesigned set. New program segments included a preview of the upcoming weekend's top stakes, a recap of recent major races, and looks at American Quarter Horse racing and at top steeplechase events.
"CITGO Racing to the Kentucky Derby" introduced several new elements this year, including the "VISA Three-Year-Old Spotlight," a look, region by region, at how horses are progressing on the road to the Kentucky Derby; "Silver Memories," a retrospective look at a Kentucky Derby winner who won the race being shown that day; and the "Video Post Parade," an innovative way of familiarizing viewers with the horses in each featured race.