The five-hour Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championship telecast on NBC earned a 1.7 rating and captured 4% of the viewing audience. They were the lowest ratings the championship has ever received.

The rating, which represents 1,050,000 households for each point, was 5.5% lower than last year's rating of 1.8 and the market share was down from last year's 5% market share. Approximately 1.78 million households tuned into the Breeders' Cup, which was about 3% less than the estimated 1.84 million who watched a year ago. In 2000, each rating point represented 1,022,000 households.

NBC Sports spokeswoman Cameron Blanchard said the lower ratings were no surprise.

"This was in line with what we expected from the overnights," Blanchard said. "We had the misfortune of going head-to-head with the most important college football game so far. Breeders' Cup is still one of the greatest days in sports."

A showdown between Nebraska and Oklahoma, which are now ranked second and fourth on the ESPN/Coaches Poll, respectively, competed for viewers' attention during the first half the Breeders' Cup telecast. The Nebraska/Oklahoma game received a 5 rating and a 14% market share. The game was followed by regional college games from 3-7 p.m. that collective earned a 5.8 rating and 14% market share.

Tim Smith, commissioner for the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, said he was not disappointed with the ratings.

"As NBC has pointed out, we were up against significantly greater college football competition and at a time when ratings for all sports have been down," Smith said. "Overall, we're very pleased by the telecast and not troubled by the ratings. Given the long telecast and the time of day, we will always be a quality rather than a quantity sale for advertisers."

Smith also pointed out that horseracing fans have a greater tendency to participate in an event like Breeders' Cup away from their homes, such as at a racetrack or an off-track betting site.

The 1-6 p.m. telecast peaked during the last half hour when the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) was run. The Classic received a 2.3 rating, which was down from 2.5 last year.

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