16.2 Million Watch the Kentucky Derby on NBC

Viewership was up 9 percent over last year and 12 percent since 2011, according to The Nielsen Company, proving once again that NBC Sports' 'Big Event Strategy' succeeds in engaging large audiences. (AP Images)

Three of the last five Kentucky Derby races have recorded at least 16 million viewers. The May 5 race, won by Orb, is the second most-watched Kentucky Derby dating back to 1989 (18.5 million on ABC), only surpassed by the 2010 Derby won by Super Saver (16.5 million). The pre-race on NBC drew 9.1 million viewers, an increase of 12 percent from last year (8.1 million) and is the second-best pre-race viewership dating back to 1992. NBC Sports Network’s five-hour pre-race show drew 500k viewers, up 19 percent from last year.

NBC Sports’ coverage of the Kentucky Derby over the last 13 races averages more than 2 million more viewers than the previous 12 Kentucky Derby broadcasts on ABC (14.3 million vs.12.0 million, up 19 percent). NBC’s average viewership of 14.3 million over the last 13 Kentucky Derby broadcasts is more than six million more than the last six years that ABC aired the Derby (1995-2000).

The Kentucky Derby once again proved to be very popular with female viewers. In fact, 52 percent of Derby viewers were women, making it the only annual sporting event that draws more female viewers than male viewers.

In two weeks, Kentucky Derby winner Orb will take one more step to try to become the first horse to win the Triple Crown in 34 years, since Affirmed in 1978. NBC Sports Group coverage of The Preakness Stakes from Pimlico Racecourse in Baltimore, Md., begins Wednesday, May 15 at 3:30 p.m. ET and continues with the Preakness Stakes on Saturday, May 18.

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