Ratings Up For Belmont Despite Withdrawal Of Star Horse
NBC had a good day at the races for its coverage of the Belmont Stakes on Saturday. But not a great day. The telecast drew 7.7 million viewers, up 13 percent from last year when it attracted 6.8 million. However, Advertising Age called the result a "massive disappointment" for the network, which had been heavily promoting the event as racing enthusiasts pinned their hopes on I'll Have Another, which had won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, becoming the first Triple Crown winner in 34 years. The withdrawal of the horse due to injury left the network with hours of programming to fill and its principal prepared story a washout. Since the Preakness two weeks ago, the network had been promoting the final Triple Crown event with 60-second promotional spots on Law & Order and the Stanley Cup Hockey telecasts, as well as 30-second spots across all NBC Universal broadcast and cable networks. Nevertheless, NBC said on Saturday that the financial impact of the withdrawal would be minimal given the fact that advertisers had purchased a package of ads for all three Triple Crown races a well as the Breeder's Cup races in November.