The Kentucky Derby: How NBC is Covering Saturday's Race

Kentucky Derby Race 2011 - H 2012
Getty Images

Kentucky Derby Race 2011 - H 2012

Ahead of the 138th annual running at Churchill Downs, NBCUniversal is including "Saturday Night Live," E! and Bravo in its four-day coverage of the event.

When the Kentucky Derby starts at precisely 6:24 p.m. ET on Saturday evening, it will count for just a few moments of several days of exhaustive coverage across the NBCUniversal networks.

In addition to live coverage from Churchill Downs between 4 and 7 p.m. ET on NBC affiliates, NBC Sports Network has coverage of classic derbies, pre-event commentary from the track and day-long programming on Saturday.

Today will also report from Churchill Downs on Friday, with Jenna Wolfe speaking with the network's on-horse reporter Donna Brothers. She'll also appear on the Sunday broadcast, speaking with the winning jockey and trainer. Elsewhere on Today, Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb will give away a trip to the Derby to a viewer who creates the most interesting hat.

Reigning Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning hosts Saturday Night Live on Derby day, and while he's rehearsing, he'll sit down for a live interview with Bob Costas to talk about the broadcast during NBC's Derby coverage. NBC will also check in with E! News host Catt Sadler as she interviews various famous guests expected at the event, including National Anthem performer Mary J. Blige. Style Network's Jeannie Mai joins the broadcast as the network's first ever fashion correspondent in on-air coverage.

Bravo's Cat Cora, co-host of Around the World in 80 Plates, is also joining NBC Sports Network’s Friday coverage for a segment on Derby-related meals.

The Kentucky Derby is always a rating boon for NBC Networks. Though 2011 saw a 12 percent drop to 14.5 million viewers, it followed a record-breaking showing of 16.5 million in 2010 --  the most-watched derby in 22 years.