Monday, October 4, 1999
NBC agrees on five-year contract to broadcast Triple Crown
LOUISVILLE, Kentucky (Ticker) -- NBC Sports and Triple Crown
Productions agreed today on a five-year contract that gave the
network exclusive American broadcast rights to the Kentucky
Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes.
The deal begins in 2001 and ends ABC's long-time coverage of the
Triple Crown. USA Today reported in today's editions that NBC
paid $51.5 million for the package, outbidding ABC's offer of
NBC Sports is entering its second year without any TV rights to
the NFL, a commitment normally in the billions of dollars. The
network, which has spent billions on the TV rights to the NBA
and the Olympics, also has the broadcast rights to the Breeders'
"We are thrilled to be joining the NBC Sports family," said
Thomas H. Meeker, president of Triple Crown Productions and
president and chief executive officer of Churchill Downs
Incorporated. "We have always been extremely impressed by the
passion with which NBC approaches all of its properties and how
it has telecast such events as the Olympics, the NBA and the
The agreement marks the first time that any of the three races
in the Visa Triple Crown series will be telecast nationally by
NBC. ABC gained rights to the Kentucky Derby in 1975 and has
televised all three races since 1987. NBC has been the
exclusive home of the Breeders' Cup since the inception of the
event in 1984.
"NBC Sports is proud to be starting this relationship with the
Visa Triple Crown partners," said Dick Ebersol, chairman of NBC
sports and Olympics. "We have defined ourselves by our
unprecedented lineup of major championship events, and today we
are enhancing the roster."
Fifty years ago, an NBC affiliate provided the first television
coverage of the Kentucky Derby. The 1949 Derby, won by Ponder,
was televised locally in Louisville by the network's affiliate
WAVE. CBS provided the first national telecast of the Derby in
1952 and initiated national broadcast of the Preakness Stakes
and Belmont Stakes in 1960.
The Belmont Stakes, first run in 1867, is the oldest of the
Triple Crown events, followed by the Preakness Stakes in 1873
and the Kentucky Derby in 1875.