SBD/Closing Bell

ESPN Pulls Out Of Negotiations For Rights To Belmont Stakes

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ESPN has pulled out of negotiations for the Belmont Stakes, meaning that NBC almost certainly will pick up its TV rights and all three Triple Crown races will be reunited on the same network for the first time since '05. In a statement released to THE DAILY, ESPN said, "Our contract was up and we elected not to renew. It did not make good business sense to renew so we have moved on and will focus our horse racing coverage on the Breeders' Cup."

NBC holds the Kentucky Derby rights through '15; Preakness rights are still in flux, but NBC is likely to get those as well, sources said. ESPN has carried the Belmont on ABC since '06 after signing a five-year, $20M deal for the race. To cut that deal, the Belmont broke up the Triple Crown broadcasts, as the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes both stayed with NBC.

NYRA, which runs the three largest horse-racing tracks in New York, recently has spoken of the desire to get all Triple Crown races on the same TV network. Interestingly, NYRA hired former ESPN exec Len DeLuca to help sell its television and media rights to the Belmont Stakes. A former Senior VP/Programming & Acquisitions, DeLuca left ESPN in September.
BELMONT STAKES TV TREND OVER LAST 15 YEARS
YEAR
NET
RAT.
VIEWERS (000)
WINNER
'10
ABC
3.0
4,735
Drosselmeyer
'09
ABC
4.4
6,640
Summer Bird
'08*
ABC
8.2
13,096
Da'Tara
'07
ABC
3.2
4,861
Rags to Riches
'06
ABC
3.5
5,044
Jazil
'05
NBC
5.4
7,712
Afleet Alex
'04*
NBC
13.1
21,889
Birdstone
'03*
NBC
10.7
15,703
Empire Maker
'02*
NBC
8.4
12,410
Sarava
'01
NBC
4.9
6,804
Point Given
'00
ABC
2.8
3,822
Commendale
'99*
ABC
6.0
7,950
Lemon Drop Kid
'98*
ABC
5.9
8,016
Victory Gallup
'97*
ABC
5.3
7,148
Touch Gold
'96
ABC
2.9
3,687
Editor's Note
NOTE: * = potential Triple Crown win at stake.

 

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