2:49pm PT by Marisa Guthrie
Nearly 8 Million Viewers Watch Belmont Stakes on NBC
NBC’s coverage of Saturday’s Belmont Stakes was watched by 7.67 million viewers, despite the 11th hour retirement of Triple Crown hopeful I’ll Have Another.
The Belmont, which was won by Union Rags, was up 12 percent compared to last year’s race (6.84 million) and 62 percent compared to 2010 (4.74 million).
For NBC, Saturday’s Belmont was the best tune in for a non-Triple Crown since 2005 and the second best in Nielsen ratings history (since 1988).
I’ll Have Another was scratched one day before the race due to the onset of tendonitis in his left foreleg. The last minute development sent the NBC Sports team, led by Bob Costas and Tom Hammond, scrambling to replace taped packages detailing the three-year-old colt’s quest to become the first Triple Crown winner in 34 years.
This year's three races on NBC (Kentucky Derby – 14.83 million, Preakness – 8.08 million and Belmont – 7.67 million) averaged 10.34 million viewers, up 2% from last year’s average of 10.12 million.