Kentucky Derby TV Rating Drops 12%

The final television ratings for the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) fell one rating point from a year ago to 7.1 and captured 18% of the viewing audience.

The 12% decrease didn't cause NBC executives any concern because the rating was the second highest for the Derby since 1996, and the highest rating for any sports program since April 14 when CBS earned a 9.2 for final round of The Masters won by Tiger Woods.

"Last year in our first Derby telecast, we posted a 40% increase over the previous year's rating," said Ken Schanzer, president of NBC Sports. "Considering this year's Derby had a wide-open field with no 'superhorse,' we were pleased to have retained a sizable number of those new viewers and, in fact, exceeded our expectations."

Each rating point represents 1,050,000 households, which means 7.45 million households tuned in to watch War Emblem wire the 18-horse field.

Like last year, the Derby was the lead-in to an NBA playoff game. The showdown between the Dallas Mavericks and the Sacramento Kings earned a final rating of 4.4 and a 10% market share, which were identical to the 2001 playoff game between the Mavs and San Antonio Spurs.