SBD/Issue 33/Sports Media

ESPN, Breeders' Cup Hope Cross-Platform Push Boosts Ratings

ESPN To Provide Nearly Ten Hours Of
Breeders' Cup Coverage Over Next Two Days
ESPN’s networks will devote a total of nine and a half hours of coverage to The Breeders’ Cup World Championships today and tomorrow.  ESPN2 will broadcast Friday’s races live from 4:00-6:00pm ET Friday, and ESPN will follow with live coverage from noon to 7:00pm ET on Saturday, with all coverage simulcast on ESPN360.com (THE DAILY). The event is in its second year on ESPN since switching from NBC.  Last year's broadcast from Churchill Downs on November 4 registered a 0.8 final Nielsen rating, marking a 53% decline from NBC’s broadcast in ’05 and the event's lowest rating ever. But ESPN Senior VP/Programming & Acquisitions Len DeLuca said, “This is our second year in an eight-year relationship with the Breeders’ Cup and we’ve already taken it up a notch from where we were last year”  (THOROUGHBRED TIMES, 10/25). More DeLuca: "It's a much larger proposition for us now. We'd like to get the ratings up, but we realize the strength of the competition" (SAN DIEGO UNION TRIBUNE, 10/26).  With the event expanding to two days with three new races being held Friday, Breeders’ Cup President & CEO Greg Avioli said that “it may take five years for recent efforts to pay off.”  He is “confident the changes will work, but conceded they may have upset some within the industry.” Avioli said, “You can’t just wish all this stuff to happen."  Event officials said that the switch to ESPN “gives them greater prominence on a network that caters to a key demographic: 18- to 49-year-old males.” In Louisville, Gregory Hall wrote one of the “major points of interest to the Breeders’ Cup was the ability of ESPN to promote the event on other programming” (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 10/25).  One new feature of the broadcast will be two "RailView" cameras mounted on a car that will "run alongside the horses in the infield" (USA TODAY, 10/26).

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