Photo: Adam Coglianese/NYRA
If I had a nickel for every time I heard the sport of racing is dying in the last ten years, I would be one of the most active buyers at this year’s Keeneland yearling sale.
Dying or not, it seems that people are watching. If this year’s television ratings are any indication, invitations to racing’s impending funeral may have gone out a bit too soon.
7.67 million viewers tuned in for NBC’s telecast of the 2012 Belmont Stakes to watch Union Rags win on Saturday. That seems like a pretty good number, but perhaps most viewers were only rubbernecking, after all it is only human nature to be unable to look away from the horror of it all.
Here are some encouraging stats from this year’s Triple Crown that would seem to laugh in the face of the grim reaper:
-This was the 2nd most-watched non-Triple Crown Belmont in Nielsen People Meter History, (measured since 1988) and represented just 45 thousand viewers less than the top one when Afleet Alex rolled to victory back in 2005.
-The 7.67 Million Viewers for the Belmont was a 12% raise from last year’s telecast on NBC and up a whopping 62% from the 2010 telecast on ABC.
-Including the 14 million of the Kentucky Derby and the 8 million of the Preakness, the three 2012 Triple Crown races on NBC averaged 10.34 Million, which was up 2% from 2011, and represented the 2nd best average in a non-Triple Crown year since 1988. It even topped the averages in 1997 (8.75 million), 1998 (8.06 million), 1999 (8.05 million) three years when there was a Triple Crown was at stake in New York.
It would seem that the people and television have spoken. Racing is not dying, or if it is, many are at least tuning in to watch the death.