— NEW YORK - The NBC Sports Group will broadcast all three legs of horse racing’s prestigious Triple Crown, renewing the rights to the Preakness Stakes and reacquiring rights to the Belmont Stakes. As previously announced, NBC and Churchill Downs, Inc. renewed rights to the Kentucky Derby. This marks the first time that all three races will be on one network since NBC aired them in 2005.
The agreements include coverage of the Black Eyed Susan Stakes and other Preakness-day and Belmont-day programming on VERSUS. Additionally, expanded Derby week programming including the Kentucky Oaks and Derby day programming will air on VERSUS. In all, the NBC Sports Group will broadcast more than 25 hours of Triple Crown coverage (detailed schedule to be released at a later date). Financial terms of the deals were not disclosed.
NBC Sports chairman Dick Ebersol said the network is uniquely positioned to expand the reach of racing's three biggest jewels.
"Everyone at NBC Sports Group is delighted that the Triple Crown has been reassembled. We are now uniquely positioned to significantly expand the reach of these iconic events with extensive coverage on VERSUS," said Ebersol. "As we previously announced, we are continuing our long-standing partnership with the Kentucky Derby. To add this extension with the Preakness while reacquiring the Belmont gives our new NBC Sports Group the three most important events in thoroughbred racing. And we want to thank Churchill Downs Incorporated and CEO Bob Evans for his leadership in paving the way for the Triple Crown to return to NBC.”
"We are pleased to renew our broadcast partnership with NBC Sports," said Tom Chuckas, President and Chief Operating Officer, Maryland Jockey Club. "Our relationship with NBC allows us the opportunity to reach more than just sports fans. The partnership not only affords us the stature and exposure of a continued presence on network television but provides the added benefit of NBC’s consistent promotion through the Kentucky Derby leading into the Preakness."
"We are thrilled to return our premier race to NBC Sports," said Steven Duncker, NYRA Chairman. "They have done a terrific job covering horse racing, including their Kentucky Derby and the Preakness broadcasts over the prior decade. With an excellent production team that has pioneered innovative camera angles, and a tremendous group of on-air talent that offers unique insights into the races, NBC Sports will be a great partner for the Belmont Stakes."
Viewership of the Kentucky Derby has risen significantly over the last decade. Super Saver's win last May drew 16.5 million viewers.