NBC Secures Royal Ascot Meet As It Grows Horse Racing Content
NBC Sports Group has invested in several new initiatives to expand its coverage of horse racing, including signing a new six-year deal to broadcast the prestigious Royal Ascot meet. NBC also will broadcast the $16M Pegasus World Cup Invitational in January from Gulfstream Park, while NBCSN will air two major Kentucky Derby prep races -- the Louisiana Derby in March and the Arkansas Derby in April. Financial details were not disclosed, but NBC Sports Group President of Programming Jon Miller said the costs were "significant," including production and talent costs and rights fees. The new agreement with Ascot Racecourse will include at least four-and-a-half hours of coverage a day from the meet on Tuesday-Friday on NBCSN, with four hours on Saturday, the final day, on NBC. All coverage will be streamed live on NBCSports.com and on the NBC Sports app. Miller said, "We now have three marquee events we can point to every year. We have the Derby in May; we have Ascot in late June; and we have the Breeders' Cup in early November." Miller said that Royal Ascot execs approached NBC about extending the agreement and details were finalized at last week’s Breeders' Cup. Ascot Chief Commercial Officer Juliet Slot in a statement praised the commitment NBC Sports has shown the meet “in terms of extensive on-course presentation, and talent on site,” over the past two years.
MORE HORSE POWER: NBC has steadily increased the number of hours it devotes to broadcasting horse racing. With these new agreements, NBC and NBCSN will broadcast 90 hours of the sport in '19, up from 23 hours in '11. The season will kick off with a 90-minute broadcast of the Pegasus World Cup. The network has aired the previous two runnings of the event, but the agreements have been on a year-to-year basis, Miller said. The deals to air the Louisiana Derby and Arkansas Derby 13 expands NBC's "Road to the Kentucky Derby" series from four to six races in which horses are vying for a spot in the Kentucky Derby.
GOING INSIDE THE DERBY: As part of the deals, NBC Sports Group is partnering with Churchill Downs to produce a four-episode documentary featuring the people and stories behind the horses pointed to the Kentucky Derby. NBC will air four 30-minute episodes during the week of the Derby. The series is being produced by Churchill Downs Exec Producer of Broadcasting Keith Wetzler.