Preakness 2012: Horse Racing Shouldn't Be Concerned with Low TV Ratings

Donald WoodFeatured ColumnistMay 22, 2012

BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 19:  Mario Gutierrez on I'll Have Another edges out Bodemeister riden by Mike Smith to win the 137th Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course on May 19, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

While the television ratings for the 2012 Preakness Stakes were down from the year before, the horse-racing world shouldn’t worry about that.

Not when I’ll Have Another is running for the first Triple Crown since Affirmed won in 1978.

According to AOL SportingNews, NBC earned a 5.6 overnight Nielsen rating for Saturday’s Preakness Stakes. That number was down 11 percent from the 6.3 rating the race scored the year before.

There will always be a built-in audience that will watch the Triple Crown races no matter what, but it’s all about drawing in the ever-fluid casual fan that only wants to be there to see history.

As good as I’ll Have Another ran at the 2012 Kentucky Derby, very few people felt the horse had any real shot of winning the second leg. Hence the drop in ratings for the Preakness Stakes this year.

Now that there is a horse hunting for a Triple Crown, the casual fans will have no problem tuning in to the Belmont Stakes for a chance to witness history.

That’s what it’s all about.

The AOL report says that NBC drew a 4.3 for last year’s Belmont race. Despite the poor showing in 2011 and a mediocre showing this past week at Pimlico, NBC and the horse-racing world can expect closer to a 9.0 this time around. That’s what ABC scored when Big Brown was going for his Triple Crown in 2008.

All of the intrigue surrounding I’ll Have Another’s dream run and his enigmatic trainer Doug O'Neill has the sport of horse racing captivated. Where the true success will come is through the casual fans.

All of the fans who have any idea of the sanctity of the Triple Crown will be tuning in, but the likeability of the O’Neill team going for the honor at the Belmont will draw in the remainder of the fans on the fence about watching.

It’s only two minutes; why not watch history be made?


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