Ratings Roundup: Kentucky Derby Audience Down, But Still Massive

Despite dropping off from last year’s record-breaking viewership, NBC’s coverage of the Kentucky Derby on Sunday drew 14.54 million viewers, the third time in as many years that the Derby has drawn at least 14.5 million. Animal Kingdom’s victory was the fourth most watched in 21 years, while last year’s was the most watched in 22 years. The Kentucky Derby also proved to be very popular with female viewers, as percent of Derby viewers 18+ were women, making it the only annual sporting event that draws more female than male viewers…

…Led by the Heat/Celtics series, Monday’s pair of NBA overtime nail-biters on Monday logged solid ratings. TNT averaged a 4.9 overnight rating for coverage of the 2011 NBA Playoffs on Monday night, up 48% from the games on the comparable night last year (3.3). Game 4 between the Heat and Celtics drew a 5.8 overnight, up a whopping 107% from last year (Orlando-Atlanta G4: 2.8), and the highest overnight of the second round on TNT. Three of the four Heat/Celtics games have drawn well over a 5.0 overnight rating.  Later in the night, the Game 4 triple-overtime thriller between the Thunder and Grizzlies earned a 4.1 overnight, up 5% from last year (Lakers-Jazz G4: 3.9)…

…Monday’s big ratings dovetailed off of solid NBA numbers for ESPN and TNT over the weekend. ESPN and ABC both scored double-digit increases over last year. Sunday’s Lakers/Mavericks Game 4 earned a 6.5 overnight rating on ABC, up 27% from last year (CLE/BOS G4: 5.1) and the second highest of the playoffs for ABC (Boston-Miami G1: 7.0).

On Saturday, Game 3 between the Heat and Celtics earned a 5.7 overnight, up 30% from last year (LAL/UTA G3: 4.4) and the the second-highest ever for a Saturday night playoff game on ABC (2009 Lakers-Nuggets G3 Western Conference Finals: 6.6). Over on ESPN, the third game of the Thunder/Grizzlies series earned a 2.9 overnight opposite the Kentucky Derby, up 71% from last year’s comparable Magic/Hawks matchup…

…Overnight ratings for Saturday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Southern 500 from Darlington were the lowest since the race moved to FOX in 2001. FOX earned a 3.5 overnight rating for the Southern 500 from Darlington on Saturday night, down 10% from last year (3.9), down a tick from 2009 (3.6), and the lowest rating for the race in the metered markets since moving to FOX in 2001.

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