Kentucky Derby TV Viewership, 1975-2008

Categories: TV Ratings Reference

Written By

May 6th, 2008

And They're Off! To NBC, Kentucky Derby TV Ratings Decline Is Reversed

5/6 Update: Hollywood Reporter has the final viewership for this year's Derby at 14.2 million, up 3% from last year. I have updated the chart and table below.

kentuckyderby2008.gif

A long term decline in Kentucky Derby ratings was reversed sharply when NBC took over the broadcast in 2001. While the decline in TV ratings for "championship" sports events is pretty typical, the reversal of such is quite rare. I am way too out of Touch with horse racing to know what NBC might have done to reverse the decline, but I'm sure we have alert readers out there who will be happy to share their opinions.

5/5 Update: Commenter Mikey has done just that. NBC splits the race and the pre-race into 2 distinct shows as well as moved the post-time to 6:10 from 5:30, so at least the initial ratings increase in 2001 after they took over can be significantly attributed to that. The slower increase after 2001 is still notable compared with most big sporting events.

Complete Kentucky Derby TV Ratings, 1975-2008:

Year

Viewers

HH Rating

Share

Network

Winner

1975

26.74

18.9

54

ABC

Foolish Pleasure

1976

25.84

17.5

49

ABC

Bold Forbes

1977

20.70

14.9

48

ABC

Seattle Slew**

1978

22.40

17.0

48

ABC

Affirmed**

1979

20.82

16.0

49

ABC

Spectacular Bid

1980

19.27

15.4

48

ABC

Genuine Risk

1981

23.47

16.0

46

ABC

Pleasant Colony

1982

20.26

14.1

40

ABC

Gato Del Sol

1983

19.90

14.5

37

ABC

Sunny's Halo

1984

16.82

12.9

36

ABC

Swale

1985

12.06

10.9

32

ABC

Spend a Buck

1986

16.95

13.6

37

ABC

Ferdinand

1987

14.39

11.6

31

ABC

Alysheba

1988

 

9.0

28

ABC

Winning Colors

1989

 

11.6

31

ABC

Sunday Silence

1990

 

10.1

27

ABC

Unbridled

1991

11.68

8.3

24

ABC

Strike The Gold

1992

11.61

8.9

26

ABC

Lil E. Tee

1993

9.64

7.3

22

ABC

Sea Hero

1994

10.58

7.5

21

ABC

Go For Gin

1995

8.13

6.0

17

ABC

Thunder Gulch

1996

9.77

7.4

21

ABC

Grindstone

1997

10.07

7.1

19

ABC

Silver Charm

1998

8.26

6.1

18

ABC

Real Quiet

1999

8.70

6.3

19

ABC

Charismatic

2000

7.93

5.8

17

ABC

Fusiachi Pegasus

2001

13.48

9.3

24

NBC

Monarchos

2002

12.82

8.3

21

NBC

War Emblem

2003

11.76

7.6

20

NBC

Funny Cide

2004

14.57

9.3

22

NBC

Smarty Jones

2005

13.58

9.0

22

NBC

Giacomo

2006

12.89

8.4

20

NBC

Barbaro

2007

13.75

8.8

21

NBC

Street Sense

2008

14.30

 

 

NBC

Big Brown

**Triple Crown winner

Nielsen TV Ratings Data: ©2008 Nielsen Media Research, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

 
© 2014 Tribune Digital Ventures