Continuing its commitment to horse racing, the NBC Sports Group has reached a multiyear media rights deal with the Breeders' Cup.
The contract, terms of which were not disclosed, begins with the 2012 Breeders' Cup World Championships on Nov. 2-3, with NBC and NBC Sports Network, nee Versus, televising 9.5 hours of live coverage from Santa Anita Park, highlighted by the first-ever primetime presentation of the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic.
With the agreement, Breeders' Cup coverage returns to NBC where it was broadcast from its inception in 1984 through 2005, before the property moved to ESPN.
It also comes hard on the hooves of the two-year extension NBC Sports Group signed last September for the Summer at Saratoga run, seven straight weekends of live horse racing from Saratoga Race Course, and, in November, when it partnered with The Jockey Club for a Road to the Kentucky Derby series that will provide live coverage of six major prep races for the 2012 Kentucky Derby. NBC added the Belmont Stakes to its stable, last year marking the first time that all three Triple Crown races appeared on one network since the Peacock last aired the Triple Crown in 2005. NBC has been the exclusive home of the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes since 2001.
NBC Sports Network will air Breeders' Cup action on Nov. 2 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. (ET) and from 3:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., the following day. As mentioned above, NBC will air the Breeders' Cup Classic from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m.
"Everyone here is delighted that the Breeders' Cup has returned home," said Jon Miller, President, Programming, NBC Sports and NBC Sports Network. "Bringing back this prestigious event, combined with our long-term partnerships for the Triple Crown with Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby, in addition to the Preakness and Belmont cements the NBC Sports Group as the home of horse racing."
"We are extremely excited to begin our new relationship with NBC and the NBC Sports Group in televising the Breeders' Cup World Championships as the finale to its expanded commitment to Thoroughbred racing," said Craig Fravel, President and CEO of Breeders' Cup Ltd. "In addition to fans enjoying the best in international competition over the two days of the Championships on NBC Sports Network, we look forward to NBC showcasing the Breeders' Cup Classic in primetime."
The Breeders' Cup comprises15 races held over two-days with over $25 million in purses at stake. The culminating event of the Breeders' Cup, the Breeders' Cup Classic, is contested at 1.25 miles on the main track, for 3-year-olds and older, and is often the determining race for the Horse of the Year title. Over the years, 11 Classic winners have been voted Horse of the Year. In 2009 at Santa Anita Park, the great racemare Zenyatta became the first female to ever win the Classic.