This Saturday’s race, in which American Pharoah will run to become the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years, will be promoted on “The Today Show,” “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” “Late Night with Seth Meyers” and “Access Hollywood,” as well as on other programs on E!, CNBC and even The Weather Channel, said John Miller, NBC Sports chief marketing officer.
Last year’s Belmont Stakes drew 20.6 million viewers (12.0 average rating), the second-highest viewership number on record.
“It is our goal to beat last year’s number,” Miller said. “History seems to be a little bit on our side in that regard, because when you have multiple Triple Crown contenders [in consecutive years], it builds up.”
|Tonalist (left) wins the 2014 Belmont Stakes, dashing California Chrome’s Triple Crown hopes.
“Today” and Weather Channel forecaster Al Roker will be at Belmont Park; NBC entertainment shows will cover the celebrities going to the race on Thursday and Friday nights; Chris Kay, the CEO of the New York Racing Association, which owns Belmont Park, will be interviewed on CNBC; and comedians Meyers and Fallon are expected to feature the race in their own styles.
Though total coverage across networks will be down from last year’s 16 hours, the number of live hours of coverage will increase from seven to eight.
NBC will also promote through social and digital media the Triple Crown Trophy, which is a separate cup from the Belmont Stakes Trophy and has not been given out since 1978, when Affirmed was the last horse to win the Triple Crown. “This is the loneliest trophy in the history of trophy-dom,” Miller said.
The Belmont on TV
Ratings for the race since it returned to NBC in 2011.
|YEAR||RATING||AVG. VIEWERSHIP (Millions)||WINNER||TRIPLE CROWN contender|
|2011||4.3||6,800||Ruler On Ice||None|
* Triple Crown contender I'll Have Another scratched the day before the 2012 Belmont Stakes.
Source: NBC Sports
The television rating for the Belmont Stakes, when there is a Triple Crown at stake, is usually three to four times the rating for the race in a normal year.
NBC sells its ad inventory for all three races before the Derby. “When they buy it, they don’t know what they are going to get,” Miller said. “If they get a normal [non-Triple Crown] rating, they get a pretty good rating. But if they get a Triple Crown [in play], it’s a really nice bonus.”
Like last year, the Belmont Stakes will lead into the Stanley Cup Final, and Miller expects the race to help boost the hockey rating, as well. Last year’s Stanley Cup Game 2, which followed the Belmont, averaged 6.4 million viewers, making it the most-watched Game 2 since 1994.
As of last week, there were a few advertising units left to sell for the race. Among the advertisers for the show are Longines and Ram Trucks.
Rob Hyland, NBC’s producer of horse racing coverage, is adding more talent to cover the race and more features, including one on “Sports Streak Busters,” since the 37-year Triple Crown drought is one of the longest in sports.
“We are planning to hear from people in the world of sports and entertainment giving their shoutouts to American Pharoah,” Hyland said. “Mark Messier and the Rangers winning the Stanley Cup in ’94; Curt Schilling and the Red Sox; Andy Murray being the first Brit to win Wimbledon on home soil; John Elway winning his first Super Bowl.”