NBC To Own Rights To All Three Legs Of Triple Crown For First Time Since '05
NBC Sports Group today will announce that it will "own the rights to all three legs" of horse racing's Triple Crown "for the first time since 2005," according to Darren Rovell of CNBC.com. NBC Sports "had already secured the rights to the Kentucky Derby through Churchill Downs through 2015," but the network has since "executed deals with the Maryland Jockey Club for the Preakness and the New York Racing Association for the Belmont to run through the same period of time." ABC "broadcast the third leg of the Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes, for the last five years." The NBC Sports Group will carry "more than 25 hours of programming associated with the races." Rovell writes "part of the appeal of the deal is a natural partner in Versus to show more horse racing coverage" (CNBC.com, 2/22). BLOODHORSE.com's Lenny Shulman notes this is the "first major deal inked by the network since its purchase by Comcast." It is "unclear how much of the three undercards will be televised on Versus, although the Black Eyed Susan Stakes from Pimlico is said to be part of the package." Post-race coverage of the May 21 Preakness and the June 11 Belmont Stakes "will also be shown on Versus, as will the May 6 Kentucky Oaks, which had been shown on NBC's Bravo channel the past two years" (BLOODHORSE.com, 2/22). ESPN/ABC pulled out of the bidding for the Belmont last week. ABC had aired the race since '06.