NBC Sports to air Kentucky Derby through 2032, becoming event’s longest-running broadcaster

In an era where sports fans have seen well-known properties move from different networks and from linear to streaming, the Kentucky Derby will remain in a familiar place for the near future.

NBC Sports and Churchill Downs Incorporated announced Saturday morning an extension of their partnership. It means the Kentucky Derby will air on NBC and Peacock through 2032.

That extension will make NBC the longest-running home of the Kentucky Derby. NBCUniversal began airing the event in 2001 and will have shown 32 editions of the Kentucky Derby (2001 to 2032) upon the conclusion of this deal. The extension includes multiplatform rights to the Kentucky Derby, Kentucky Oaks and Derby and Oaks Day programming.

ABC aired the Derby from 1975 to 2000, while CBS broadcasted the race from 1952 to 1974. NBC owns the rights to the Derby and the Preakness. Fox acquired the rights to The Belmont Stakes in 2022 and has a contract to air that race through 2030.

Saturday’s coverage of the Kentucky Derby begins on NBC at 2:30 p.m. ET. The race is scheduled to go off at 6:57 p.m. ET. Fierceness, the bay colt who romped to a 13 1/2 win in the Florida Derby, is the morning line favorite.



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“My first show was a two-hour show in 2001, and we covered the Kentucky Derby two hours to cover a two-minute race,” said NBC reporter Donna Brothers, who has covered all 24 Kentucky Derbys for NBC Sports. “Now we’re up to two days, with 7 1/2 hours on Derby Day. I think we’re on for five or six hours on Oaks, and we still aren’t able to tell all the stories because there’s so many great stories to tell.”

“Telling the rich stories surrounding the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May is part of the fabric of NBC Sports, and we are thrilled to continue that tradition with Churchill Downs,” said Rick Cordella, president of NBC Sports, in a statement.

The Derby has long been a significant viewership event. Since 2010, NBC Sports has averaged 15.6 million viewers for the Kentucky Derby across all platforms excluding the 2020 COVID-19 year when the race ran in September.



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Last year’s race on NBC, won by Mage, averaged a total audience delivery of 14.8 million viewers across television and Peacock, down from 16 million in 2022. The race peaked at 16.6 million viewers when Mage crossed the finish line. As a viewership story, the Derby is always a unique event as it draws a more female audience (about 51 percent) than men.

Follow The Athletic’s live blog for more on the Kentucky Derby and Saturday’s action.

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(Photo: Jamie Squire / Getty Images)

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