Derby ratings highest in 17 years

NBC reported today that the Kentucky Derby earned its highest overnight Nielsen rating since 1992, when Lil E Tee won the Derby.

Even as attendance and handle were down, the race drew a 10.2 rating and a 22 share — up seven percent from last year’s rating.

About the only flaw in NBC’s coverage was race announcer Tom Durkin not calling the name of the winner until well after he’d already made the decisive move. The network should be credited, however, for going eight commercial-free minutes right after the race, capturing the drama of Calvin Borel’s reaction and other post-race highlights.

The network, in a release today, mentioned that as a potential ratings enhancer. Along with several other things . . .

NBC’S STRATEGIC ‘BIG EVENT’ MARKETING PAYS OFF: NBC Sports used its strategic ‘Big Event’ approach to promote the Kentucky Derby. The marketing began with its first Derby promotion on Super Bowl Sunday. The promotion was designed to broaden the Kentucky Derby’s audience by targeting the casual viewer in the “TODAY” show, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, NBC Primetime, Bravo, Oxygen, IVillage and its companion service BlogHer.

The “TODAY” show, America’s No. 1 Morning Show for 699 straight weeks over more than 13 years, gave the Kentucky Derby unprecedented promotion with Derby-related segments for eight consecutive days. The “TODAY” show was live from Churchill Downs with Al Roker and Amy Robach on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and the winning jockey, trainer and owners were interviewed live on the “TODAY” show this morning.

NBC SPORTS PURE PRODUCTION PHILOSOPHY: Saturday’s broadcast featured the triumph of 50-1 long shot Mine That Bird and jockey Calvin Borel’s spectacular run from last place as he maneuvered his horse along the rail to win by nearly seven lengths. The NBC Sports production team of producer Sam Flood and director David Michaels provided eight straight minutes of uninterrupted coverage to capture the raw emotion of Borel’s rare victory lap.

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