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Volume 20 No. 42
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NBC stays in the stable, renews deal for Pegasus World Cup

NBC has reupped its deal to broadcast the Pegasus World Cup after the inaugural running of the horse race, the world’s richest, drew more than 1.5 million viewers this year.

Financial terms of the agreement between NBC and The Stronach Group, which owns the race, were not disclosed. NBC will televise the race from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. ET Jan. 27 from Gulfstream Park in South Florida.

Jon Miller, NBC Sports Group president of programming, said the deal is not a time buy or a rights deal. “It’s more of a joint effort by the two of us because we are both selling inventory,” Miller said.

Because the event is so new, it is a one-year renewal, Miller said.

The first running, on Jan. 28, averaged 1.58 million viewers, ranking as the most-watched afternoon horse racing program — excluding Triple Crown races — since American Pharoah won the Breeders’ Cup Classic in November 2015.

NBC has long-term deals to broadcast the Breeders’ Cup and all three Triple Crown races, including the Preakness Stakes, which is owned by The Stronach Group.

The racetrack did have interest from other networks in broadcasting next year’s race, but the company values its relationship with NBC and the first broadcast of the race by the network exceeded expectations, said Mike Rogers, The Stronach Group’s executive vice president for business development.

Each horse owner put up $1 million for a slot in the gate at the Pegasus World Cup. Earlier this year, The Stronach Group announced it would contribute $4 million for the second running, making the purse $16 million.

The agreement is NBC’s latest investment in horse racing. The network has increased its coverage of the sport from 23 hours in 2011 to 85 hours this year.

The Kentucky Derby drew 16.45 million viewers, marking the race’s best performance since 2010, and was up 6 percent from last year, when American Pharoah became the first horse to win the Triple Crown in 37 years.

“I wasn’t surprised at all,” Miller said. “Horse racing is a sport on the rise.”