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6.8M watch Belmont Stakes on NBC; Most-watched non-triple crown Belmont in 6 years

NBC Sports first broadcast of the Belmont Stakes since 2005, which was won by 24-1 long shot Ruler on Ice, drew 6.8 million viewers, making it the most-watched Belmont in a non-Triple Crown year since NBC last broadcast the Belmont in 2005, according to official national data provided today by The Nielsen Company.

The complete press release is included after the jump.

MOST-WATCHED NON-TRIPLE CROWN BELMONT IN 6 YEARS

6.8 Million Watch Belmont on NBC, Most in Non-Triple Crown Year Since NBC Last Broadcast the Race in 2005

Race Portion up 44% and Pre-Race up 81% From Last Year on ABC

NEW YORK – June 14, 2011 – NBC Sports first broadcast of the Belmont Stakes since 2005, which was won by 24-1 long shot Ruler on Ice, drew 6.8 million viewers, making it the most-watched Belmont in a non-Triple Crown year since NBC last broadcast the Belmont in 2005, according to official national data provided today by The Nielsen Company.

The NBC Sports Group presented 6.5 hours of Belmont Stakes coverage (4.5 hours on VERSUS and two hours on NBC), the first time the entire Triple Crown was broadcast on one network since 2005.

The race portion of the Belmont (6:08-6:55 p.m. ET) drew 6.8 million viewers, 44 percent higher than last year’s race portion on ABC (4.7 million from 5:24-7:10 p.m. ET, and the most in a non-Triple Crown year since NBC last broadcast the Belmont in 2005 (7.7 million).
The 6.8 million viewers ties 2001 as the second most-watched Belmont race in a non-Triple Crown year since at least 1994.
The viewership is also up three percent from the Belmont in 2009 when jockey Calvin Borel attempted to make history by becoming the first jockey to win the Triple Crown on two different horses (6.8 million vs. 6.6 million).
The pre-race (5-6:08 p.m. ET), bolstered by a two-hour Belmont Access show on VERSUS that preceded the NBC broadcast drew 3.4 million viewers, up 81 percent over last year’s pre-race on ABC (1.9 million viewers), and the most for a non-Triple Crown year since 2006 (3.8 million on ABC).
The Belmont race earned a national household rating of a 4.3/10, up 43 percent from last year (3.0/7 on ABC) and just off the 2009 rating of 4.4/11.
BELMONT STAKES VIEWERSHIP RATINGS SINCE 1994 (Race Portion):

2011, 6.8 million, NBC
2010, 4.7 million, ABC
2009, 6.6 million, ABC (Borel going for unprecedented jockey Triple Crown)
2008, 13.1 million, ABC (Triple Crown at stake – Big Brown)
2007, 4.9 million, ABC
2006, 5.0 million, ABC
2005, 7.7 million, NBC
2004, 21.9 million, NBC (Triple Crown at stake – Smarty Jones)
2003, 15.7 million, NBC (Triple Crown at stake – Funny Cide)
2002, 12.4 million, NBC (Triple Crown at stake – War Emblem)
2001, 6.8 million, NBC
2000, 4.3 million, ABC
1999, 9.3 million, ABC (Triple Crown at stake – Charismatic)
1998, 9.1 million, ABC (Triple Crown at stake – Real Quiet)
1997, 8.2 million, ABC (Triple Crown at stake – Silver Charm)
1996, 4.0 million, ABC
1995, 5.1 million, ABC
1994, 5.9 million, ABC

TOP 10 OVERNIGHT RATINGS FOR BELMONT STAKES:

1. Ft. Myers, 8.7/17
T2. Louisville, 8.6/18
T2. Baltimore, 8.6/18
4. Hartford, 8.1/15
T5. New York, 7.4/16
T5. Buffalo, 7.4/17
7. West Palm Beach, 7.2/13
8. Nashville, 7.1/13
T9. Tampa, 6.8/15
T9. Providence, 6.8/13

The Belmont success follows strong viewership for the Kentucky Derby and Preakness in the first year since 2005 that NBC broadcast all three Triple Crown races.

14.5 MILLION WATCH KENTUCKY DERBY: NBC Sports’ coverage this year’s Kentucky Derby drew 14.54 million viewers, the fourth most-watched Kentucky Derby in 21 years. Since implementing NBC’s Big Event Strategy, the last three Kentucky Derby races have recorded at least 14.5 million viewers including last year’s Derby, which was the most-watched for the event in 22 years.

NBC Sports coverage of the Kentucky Derby over the last 11 years averages more than 2½ million more viewers than the previous 11 Kentucky Derby broadcasts on ABC (14.1 million vs.11.5 million, up 23 percent).

8.8 MILLION WATCH PREAKNESS STAKES: NBC Sports coverage of the Preakness Stakes drew 8.8 million viewers, a gain of five percent over last year’s race and the second most-watched Preakness in five years, topped only by the much-hyped boys vs. girls showdown in 2009 when filly Rachel Alexandra – with jockey Calvin Borel – beat Mine That Bird, which Borel rode to victory in the Kentucky Derby.

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