NBC Sports Launches Kentucky Derby 'Save the Date' Campaign (Video)

4:43 PM PST 04/18/2014 by Debbie Emery
NBC; AP Images

The network's week of coverage will air on "Today," "The Tonight Show" and "Access Hollywood" running up to the May 3 horse race, which marks Josh Elliott's debut.

Known as the "fastest two minutes in sports," NBC is turning the Kentucky Derby into a week of entertainment, not only on NBC Sports Network, but also with late-night and primetime coverage. 

"We want to tie-in a lot of the company, so we will have Access Hollywood and Today there as well to give that a brand voice," John Miller, chief marketing officer NBC Sports Group, tells The Hollywood Reporter of the historic race that will air on May 3 on NBC beginning at 1 p.m. PST.

"Then we have several shows in the NBC Universal family, such as Jimmy Fallon's The Tonight Show and Late Night With Seth Meyers that are going to do their picks, so it's going to be a weeklong event," he explains.

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Coverage of the Derby will span 15.5 hours and include the Oaks the day before and all the preraces, where you "can watch all the glamour at the race and visit the paddock."

A frontrunner for NBC will be new hire and former Good Morning America anchor Josh Elliott, who will make his network debut at Churchill Downs. "He will be there to talk about the event, do features and talk about the horses. It's a great way to get him on board, expose him to the public and utilize his charm while at the Derby," says Miller.

"He is an incredible communicator who has a sports background, and -- as we are growing as a sports entity -- to have new properties and more talent on our roster is a big deal. I am very glad he is here," he added.

NBC is encouraging the 16.2 million viewers from 2013, who made it the second-most-watched Derby in a quarter of a century, to celebrate the equestrian event in style by launching a 'Save the Date' campaign. The festivities include a special commercial airing during the NHL playoffs, theme cocktail recipes, such as the Oak Lily and Mint Julep, and event planning advice to host a Kentucky Derby party at home.

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"The fun thing about the Derby is that you can dress up," explains Miller. "What we are imitating is that Kentucky feeling of the celebration of spring, wearing fine attire, amazing hats and all the things that go with that. 

"It is a great party race, and you can pick your horse based on their name or the jockey's colors and just have at it!"

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Another broadcasting element that makes it unique is that 51 percent of viewers for the 2013 Kentucky Derby were women, totaling 8.2 million and ranking as the highest percentage of females for any major sporting event in 2013.

"The only other sporting event that is more popular with women than men is the Olympics," explains Miller. 

Watch the new party-themed promo spot below:

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