Ratings Roundup: NBC’s Kentucky Derby Down Slightly, But Still Tops 15M Viewers

NBC Sports’ coverage of Nyquist’s victory in Saturday’s 142nd Kentucky Derby averaged 15.5 million viewers – marking the fourth consecutive year the “Run for the Roses” has topped 15 million viewers on NBC. The Kentucky Derby (6:21-7:08 p.m. ET) posted a 9.0/21 national rating and 15.5 million viewers on NBC Saturday, down 6% in ratings and 3% in viewership from last year (9.6, 16.0M). The 9.0 rating is tied as the lowest for the Kentucky Derby since 2011 (8.5), matching 2012, but the year’s Derby does mark the fourth consecutive year and sixth time in eight years (2009, 2010, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016) that NBC’s Kentucky Derby coverage averaged more than 15 million viewers. From 1991-2008, Kentucky Derby average viewership did not reach 15 million.

Saturday’s Kentucky Derby is the most-watched weekend sporting event since Super Bowl 50. Viewership peaked with 17.9 million viewers from 6:45-7:00 p.m. ET when Nyquist crossed the finish line, which matched the peak from last year’s Kentucky Derby victory by Triple Crown champion American Pharoah.

Saturday’s pre-race coverage, which included the 6 p.m. ET show open narrated by Kentucky’s own Ashley Judd, averaged 9.3 million viewers – second-best ever for a pre-race show (since 1992).

Louisville, the home of the Kentucky Derby, topped the metered markets with a 33.7 rating/62 share, followed by Cincinnati (16.6/33) and Ft. Myers (16.5/30).

NBC Sports Live Extra’s presentation of the Kentucky Derby ranks as the most streamed Kentucky Derby ever, delivering 7 million minutes, up 75% from last year (3 million minutes). The stream also delivered a record 225,000 unique users. Coverage included a mosaic of four different camera angles for the first time ever, including the NBC broadcast, a grandstand camera, an overhead camera, and an infield camera. During the race, the infield camera was replaced by “Collmus Cam” – Larry Collmus’ Kentucky Derby race call as streamed by a camera in his booth at Churchill Downs.

Johnny Weir’s tweet-powered brooch galloped and lit up more than 6 million times. On Derby Day, NBC Sports’ Facebook delivered 10 million impressions (up 372% compared to the 2015 Kentucky Derby) and the @NBCSN Twitter handle delivered 1.5 million impressions (up 123%), with 1.1 million video views on Derby Day across Facebook and Twitter. A replay of the race, sponsored by Longines, racked up 1 million views on Facebook, and was shared more than 6,000 times. In addition, nearly 35,000 fans tuned in to NBC Sports Group’s Facebook Live content on Derby Day…

Penguins-Caps Series Shines for NBC
…For the first time ever, NBC aired a Stanley Cup Playoff game in primetime after the Kentucky Derby. With Saturday’s puck drop shortly after Nyquist’s victory, Game 5 of the Penguins-Capitals second-round series averaged 4.164 million viewers – ranking as the second-most watched non-Stanley Cup Final game on record (since 1993), averaging 4.164 million viewers. The game also posted a 2.40 HH rating, making it the second-highest rated non-Stanley Cup Final game ever on NBC (since 2006). Saturday night’s game trails only last year’s Western Conference Final Game 7 matchup between the Chicago Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks on NBC in both categories (5/30/15; 4.601 million viewers and 2.61 HH rating).

Through all available games on NBC, the playoffs have posted 1.983 million average viewers (up 8% from NBC’s comparable coverage of the playoffs last year);

Game 5 produced a 19.8 rating in Pittsburgh to rank as the highest-rated Penguins game on NBC in the market since the 2013 Eastern Conference Final (6/1/13; 23.2). Game 5 produced a 7.7 rating in Washington D.C. to rank as the highest-rated Capitals game on NBC in the market since the 2012 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals vs. Boston (4/22/12; 8.7). NBC was the No. 1 network in both Pittsburgh and Washington D.C. during the game…

Two days later, Game 6 of the Capitals/Penguins Stanley Cup playoff series drew 2.0 million viewers on NBCSN, up 116% from Canadiens/Lightning Game 6 last year (932K) and the top audience of the postseason on cable. The previous high was 1.8 million for Game 4 of the series last week. The Penguins/Capitals series generated cable’s four largest audiences of the playoffs, with Game 3 ranking third (1.6M) and Game 1 fourth (1.5M). Only three other games have crossed the million viewer mark, Games 4 and 6 of the Blues/Stars series (1.1M for each) and Game 7 of Blackhawks/Blues in the first round (1.4M). (SMW)…

…In other Stanley Cup Playoffs news, Game 7 of the Blues/Stars Stanley Cup playoff series drew 1.3 million viewers on Tuesday night, down 51% from Capitals/Rangers last year (2.7M) and the least-watched second round Game 7 in five years — since Red Wings/Sharks in 2011 (1.33M to 1.25M). (SMW)…

Warriors Drive Big Ratings in NBA Playoffs
…TNT’s coverage of the Warriors’ series clinching win over Portland drew an average of 6.3 million viewers to rank as cable’s most-viewed regular season/playoff game to-date this year and up 32% from Grizzlies/Warriors last year (4.7M). The night’s doubleheader (Heat/Raptors and Trailblazers/Warriors) averaged 5.1 million viewers for a rise of 20% over last year’s comparable coverage. (Cynopsis Sports)…

…The Warriors clincher bested Game 4 of of the series, which scored 6.2 million viewers on TNT Monday night, up 24% from Warriors/Grizzlies last year (5.0M) and previously the most-viewed game of the season on cable. (SMW)…

…The Eastern Conference Playoffs have not matched the numbers of the West, Game 3 of the Cavaliers/Hawks NBA playoff series drew 3.2 million viewers on ESPN Friday night, was down 43% from Cavaliers/Bulls last year (5.6M). Saturday’s Raptors/Heat Game 3 had 2.3 million viewers — down 2% from Hawks/Wizards last year (2.4M) and the least-watched second-round playoff game since Magic/Hawks Game 3 in 2010 (2.0M). According to SportsMediaWatch, Eastern Conference series account for eight of the ten smallest second round audiences since 2010, with the previously mentioned Cavaliers/Hawks game ranking tenth.

Out west, Games 3 and 4 of Spurs/Thunder drew 5.0 million viewers on ESPN and 5.1 million on TNT — flat and up 1%, respectively, from 5.0 million for Games 3 and 4 of Rockets/Clippers last year. (SMW)

Odds and Ends
…NASCAR Sprint Cup racing from Kansas delivered 3.1 million viewers on Fox Sports 1 Saturday night, up 27% from last year (2.5M) but down 45% from 2014 on the FOX broadcast network (5.8M). (SMW)…

…The second leg of the Real Madrid/Manchester City Champions League semifinal drew 472,000 viewers on FS1 Wednesday afternoon, down a third from Real Madrid/Juventus last year (704K). Coverage on Fox Deportes had 412,000, down 21% from last year on ESPN Deportes (520K). The combined total of roughly 884,000 trailed last year’s audience of 1.2 million by 28%. (SMW)

…Final round coverage of the PGA Tour Quail Hollow Championship had a 2.0 overnight rating on CBS Sunday afternoon, down from from last year’s 2.4 and the lowest final round overnight since at least 2011 (2.0). (SBD)…

…Clips from last week’s episode of Garbage Time With Katie Nolan, which premiered Wednesday, May 4, had attracted more than half a million views (540,457) on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, FOXSports.com, FOX Sports GO, Instagram and the show’s podcast platforms as of May 11. The episode featured Katie’s Deflategate parody of Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” and the launch of a crowd-funding campaign to buy Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz a bench in New York City’s Central Park as a retirement gift.

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