NBC Sports’ Saturday coverage of the controversial 145th Kentucky Derby on NBC, followed immediately by the primetime Columbus Blue Jackets-Boston Bruins Stanley Cup Playoff Game 5, delivered multiple overnight ratings milestones, according to data provided by Nielsen.
At the Kentucky Derby, heavy favorite horse Maximum Security was disqualified from his apparent victory after being deemed to have interfered with several horses during the race. Instead, 65-1 long shot Country House took home the win.
It was the first disqualification of a winner since 1968 at horse racing’s most prestigious event. At the 1968 race, winner Dancer’s Image was disqualified for having traces of phenylbutazone, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory used as a pain reliever in horses and other animals.
“We hit the trifecta last night, with the historic drama of the Kentucky Derby and two one-goal Stanley Cup Playoff games,” said Sam Flood, President, Production, NBC Sports & NBCSN. “With the unanticipated and unprecedented conclusion of the Derby leading into Columbus-Boston Game 5, we were able to capitalize on the audience opportunity and set ratings milestones across the board.”
Country House’s victory in the “Run for the Roses” delivered a 10.9/25 overnight rating – matching 1992 as the best overnight for a Kentucky Derby since 1990. In addition, the 10.9/25 for the Kentucky Derby (6:30-7:30pm ET race portion) is up 20% from last year’s race (9.1/21) featuring eventual Triple Crown winner Justify, and marks television’s best Saturday overnight since the NFL Divisional Playoffs (Jan. 12, 2019).
The overnight rating peaked at an 11.9/27 from 6:45-7 p.m. ET, as Country House and Maximum Security crossed the finish line. Louisville, the home of the Kentucky Derby, topped the metered markets with a 39.5 rating/69 share (top 20 markets below).
The drama of the Kentucky Derby controversy provided a large lead-in audience for Columbus-Boston Game 5 on NBC. The result was a 3.22 overnight rating, the second-highest overnight for a Stanley Cup Playoff game on record (since 1994), excluding Stanley Cup Final games. Blue Jackets-Bruins Game 5 trails only a 3.27 overnight rating for Chicago-Anaheim in 2015, which was a Game 7 of the Western Conference Final, among non-Stanley Cup Final games. Last night’s game was up 12% vs. last year’s Pittsburgh-Washington Game 5 (2.87), which also led out of the Kentucky Derby.
Columbus delivered a 15.2 local rating for Game 5, NBC Sports’ highest rating on record for an NHL game in the market. Boston scored a 15.1 rating.
Last night’s late Stanley Cup Playoff Game 5 between Colorado and San Jose delivered a 0.75 overnight rating, up 75% vs. the comparable game last year (Winnipeg-Nashville; 0.58).
TOP METERED MARKETS FOR 2019 KENTUCKY DERBY (Race Portion)
1. Louisville 39.5/69
2. Cincinnati 20.3/38
3. Ft. Myers 19.4/37
4. Indianapolis 18.6/34
5. Knoxville 17.9/30
T6. Dayton 17.6/33
T6. Buffalo 17.6/32
8. West Palm Beach 17.1/31
9. Tampa 16.5/32
10. Columbus 16.2/31
11. Providence 15.7/29
12. Boston 15.4/33
13. Cleveland 14.9/30
14. Orlando 14.8/31
15. Baltimore 14.3/30
16. Hartford 13.4/26
17. New Orleans 13.1/23
18. Pittsburgh 13.0/27
T19. Greenville 12.7/21
T19. Milwaukee 12.7/27