More people watch the Kentucky Derby than the Super Bowl?! Pimlico Thursday Thoughts

May 09, 2012 | Gary Quill

Well, not according to the overnight ratings. In reality, only 9% of households tuned in to watch the 138th running of the Kentucky Derby, that’s a 6% increase from 2011. The 20 share (i.e. percentage of all TV’s in use at the time) is a far cry from the 47 share the NFL’s biggest game of the season received this year.

So how is it that more folks could have watched the Derby than NFL’s Big Game?! Allow me to present the evidence.

Jay Cronley writes at that this year’s television rating numbers are misleading. Ratings are provided by a count of how many televisions are turned to a certain station at a certain time. With an event like the Derby, Cronley says, those ratings do not take into account the Derby parties where multiple people are watching at one home, or, more importantly, the large number of people at tracks around the country watching the simulcast feed. If the people at tracks and other sites watching the race were counted, “it would be hard to find a sporting event watched more than this Derby,” he writes adding, “If half the horse race enthusiasts were home with their televisions tuned to the Kentucky Derby, instead of being at unrated tracks and off-track betting establishments, horse racing numbers would be through the Twin Spires and into the troposphere.”

Fact: The 2012 Derby out-rated the Masters final round and a prime time Daytona 500 that came with a Bruckheimer-esque fiery explosion. Comparing to the Super Bowl (and secondarily to the NFL) doesn’t work either because they’re different types of events. Might as well compare it to the Academy Awards to see if the Derby holds its own (it does).

OK, before you Doubting Thomas’ chime in with “what about all the Super Bowl parties” when it comes to measuring household televisions turned in to a concern channel and time?!” Consider this you ignore slut(s) (re: Dan Aykroyd’s SNL Point-CounterPoint character)…

1. The average Derby party has more than 20 in attendance and upwards to 200 based on personal experience and knowledge of such parties. NFL “Big Game” parties can vary in size.

2. Most horse racing enthusiasts will watch the Derby from their local track or OTB. We’re talking a couple hundred tracks and at least three times as many OTB’s. At what other venue would fans who watch the NFL “Big Game” (not sure if I can say the “SB” word) go other than a party or at home? TV ratings do not reach race tracks or OTB’s.

3. On-site attendance… Kentucky Derby: 165,307 versus NFL “Big Game”: 68,658
side note: Day before the (aka Oaks Day), on-track attendance: 112,552

4. International audience: Thoroughbred horse racing is followed and takes place on every continent except Antarctica. You can’t say that about American Football. So even though the NFL “Big Game” is broadcast all over the world… so is the Kentucky Derby.

5. Time of year and day… Kentucky Derby: 1st Saturday in May (4-7pm EDT) versus NFL “Big Game”: 1st Sunday in February (6pm-10pm EST).
Hmmm, ya think more people are willing to stay inside on a Sunday night in the dead of winter versus a Saturday afternoon in the spring?!

6. When the ratings company says that 9% of sets were watching, was that during the actual 2 minutes of the race, or is it averaged over the entire time of the 3 hour telecast? Surely the casual fan will tune in around 6pm EDT (2 hours into the telecast after they get home from Lowe’s or Home Depot), just in time to see the horses come onto the track and see the race. At “Big Game” parties (which typically start 2-3pm EST) or any household on a Sunday in February, the television gets turned on early afternoon in anticipation of the game.

7. Amount bet legally on… Kentucky Derby: $187 million vs. NFL “Big Game”: $93.9 million

8. Chick dig horses. Percentage of women who watch the… Kentucky Derby: 51% vs. NFL “Big Game”: 46%

I rest my case. Bring on the cross-examination and/or rebuttal.

Pimlico Turf starting gate

Recapping selections from Day 22 (Sunday, May 6th) had 6 winners (3 Top Selections) with the $2 Early Double ($53.00); $2 Exactas in the 1st ($19.80), 2nd ($24.20), 3rd ($83.40), 8th ($7.40), 9th ($11.20) and 10th ($38.20) races; $1 Trifecta in 1st ($27.50) and 9th ($12.10); $1 Pick-3 in race 8-10 ($18.80) and Late Double ($13.20).

The BEST BET (22 9-6-2) and LONGSHOT PICK (22 2-2-8) were major disappointments as they not only off-the-board, but finished dead last in their respective races.

Selections for Day 23 at Pimlico Thursday, May 10th card are posted below.

1st race post is 1:10pm EDT. Track Condition… Dirt: FAST Turf: OFF

1st race – $12,000 Maiden Claiming for 3 y.o. & up – 6 furlongs
#3 – Thunder Feet (2-1)
#1 – Spring Pow Wow (3-1)
#6 – Evil Lad (5-2)

2nd race – $12,500 Claiming for F&M 3 y.o. & up – 1 1/16 mile OFF Turf
#11 – Joepaul’streasure (7-5)
#8 – Grandiloquent (10-1)
#7 – Wachacha (4-1)

3rd race – $8,000 Maiden Claiming for 3 y.o. & up – 1 1/16 mile
#5 – Acceptance Letter (5-1)
#3 – Tyler’s Smile (8-1)
#8 – Our Prince Charlie (5-2)

4th race – $5,000 Claiming for 3 y.o. OR 4 y.o. & up NW3L – 6 furlongs
#9 – Go Six Go (5-1) $$$ LONGSHOT PICK $$$
#2 – Don Dadda (7-2)
#3 – The Devil You Say (5-1)

5th race – $31,000 Maidens for 3 y.o. & up – 1 1/16 mile OFF Turf
#6 – Marimba Man (9-2)
#12 – Once And For All (7-2)
#2 – Whatdoyousee (6-1)

6th race – $5,000 Claiming for F&M 3 y.o. & up NW2L – 1 1/16 mile
#3 – Indys Valay (3-5)
#7 – Promessa Doce (10-1)
#4 – Oh Please (8-1)

7th race – $25,000 Opt Claiming N2X for F&M 3 y.o. & up – 1 1/16 OFF Turf
#9 – Delicate Genius (8-1)
#1 – Lady Charlie (4-1)
#6 – Ketubah (10-1)

8th race – $33,000 Maidens for 3 y.o. fillies – 6 furlongs
#7 – Monster Sleeping (2-1)
#2 – Bren’s Friend (8-5)
#8 – Always Pettit (6-1)

9th race – $5,000 Claiming N2Y for 3 y.o. & up – 1 1/16 mile
#7 – Silver Slugger (5-1)
#6 – Lionofwallstreet (2-1)
#8 – Palo Duro Canyon (8-5)

10th race – $25,000 Maiden Claiming for F&M 3 y.o. & up – 5f OFF Turf
#10 – Malibu Beach Bunny (3-1) *** BEST BET ***
#1 – My Celtic Star (9-5)
#8 – Sicut Quercus (5-1)

Good Luck!

3 Comments For This Post

  1. Ruben Says:

    Unless the Ravens or Orioles are involved, I’d rather shell out the thousands to go to the Derby before I’d go to the Super Bowl or Game 7 of the Series. As a sports fan, what I love about the Derby is how twenty different story lines over the course of several months ultimately collide in those two minutes. And unlike the NFL and MLB one story line continues onward at least for another two weeks and hopefully for an additional three.
    [GQ added: I hear ya! Most people have a hard time taking off their purple and/or orange colored glasses long enough to take the time to get to know the sport 9of horse racing). I’m a Baltimore sports fans, not just a horse racing junkie… there’s a time of year to concentrate on every sport, and May is the best month for horses racing, IMHO.].

  2. Michael Says:

    I think another point you can add is that there are many, many states that do not allow on-line wagering for the ponies and therefore, more people would HAVE to go to an OTB in order to place a wager and most likely will stay there to watch it. As for Ruben, we hope to see you at a Derby one year. Absolutely no sporting event like it.
    [GQ added: Excellent point Mike, as I believe less than half of the states will allow you to open an online wagering account.]

  3. Steve Says:

    Thats what happens when refs screw teams over. NFL is becoming FAKE just like the WWE is. When Refs screw the Ravens over preventing them from going to superbowl. Majority of the fans dont want to see Belicheat in the superbowl but the Refs insist the Pats belong in Superbowl cause Brady is a sex symbol attracts women.

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