SBD/Issue 167/Sports Media

Spice Girl: NBC Draws High Overnight Ratings For Preakness

NBC Earns 7.9/18 Overnight Nielsen Rating
For 134th Running Of Preakness Stakes
NBC's telecast of the race segment of the Preakness Stakes on Saturday earned a 7.9/18 overnight Nielsen rating from 6:00-6:45pm ET, the highest overnight since a 9.2/20 in '04. The 7.9 rating is up 27% from last year's rating of 6.2/14. For the entire telecast from 5:00-6:45pm, NBC earned a 6.3/15 overnight rating, up 24% from a 4.7/12 last year. The 6.3 rating also marks the second-highest overnight since a 7.8/20 in '90 (NBC). DAILY VARIETY's Rick Kissell writes NBC "has effectively broadened the reach of the sport with its promotional efforts" (DAILY VARIETY, 5/18). In St. Petersburg, Tom Jones wrote NBC's Preakness coverage was "first-rate," as the network "wisely took its time and focused on the best stories, giving each of them room" to breathe. NBC "used the first half-hour of Saturday's coverage with a masterful and comprehensive look at Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird," while the race coverage also was "superb" (TAMPABAY.com, 5/17). In Toronto, Chris Zelkovich writes NBC's Mine That Bird feature was "superb, but surely the horse's Canadian roots deserved more mention than the fact 'he was racing up in Canada' before current owners purchased the biggest story in horse racing" (TORONTO STAR, 5/18). The WASHINGTON EXAMINER's Jim Williams writes NBC producer Sam Flood and director David Michaels "should receive an award for special effects," as they were able to "make a shabby Pimlico race track look stunning on TV." Meanwhile, announcer Tom Hammond and analyst Gary Stevens "broke down the race with a number of great replays provided to them by Flood and Michaels," and the "best replay came from the blimp along with a graphic that used an arrow and a counter" (Washington EXAMINER, 5/18).

EASY RIDER: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Jason Gay writes, "What is it with horse racing that it so effectively grabs the American imagination?" Jockey Calvin Borel, who won the Kentucky Derby with Mine That Bird and the Preakness with Rachel Alexandra, delivers a "pair of knockout performances in the two biggest races of the year, and suddenly we're getting all dew-eyed and gooey." NBC "wisely made him the showcase" during its Preakness coverage, "even catching him zipping up his fly just before walking to the track." But it has been "hard not to detect a slightly patronizing tone in some of the coverage of the jockey, as if he's some magical bayou Zelig, a la Forrest Gump," and what has been "overlooked is what a ruthless, Jordanesque competitor he is" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 5/18).

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