NBC is on the verge of losing one of the big-name sporting events it left on the network. While the NFL came back years ago, NBC Sports lost a lot from MLB to NBA. Now their horse racing coverage could stray from one of the biggest races of the year.
Belmont Stakes potentially change hands for Fox Sports, says Michael McCarthy of Front Office Sports. NBC will lose their current contract in 2022, missing the third Triple Crown game after 11 years. NBC will always be home to the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, with McCarthy noting how Belmont doesn’t collect so much juice without a triple crown contender.
NBC has controlled the rights to Belmont Stakes for 11 years. Even though it is set to lose them to compete with Fox Sports, NBC will retain the rights to Kentucky Derby + Preakness Stakes. The Belmont doesn’t generate as much juice as the other two unless there is a Triple Crown competitor.
– Michael McCarthy (@MMcCarthyREV) December 3, 2021
To make matters more certain, Fox Sports’ impending deal would include a “multi-million dollar sponsorship” with Fox Bet Sportsbook. NBC retained the Derby and Preakness for years, with the Belmont initially parting ways due to the New York Racing Association’s withdrawal from a comprehensive deal with the Triple Crown.
Exclusivity seems to be the next big bet for media companies in the sports world. According to The Streamable, they are popular because of the power of live events to get people to sit down through commercials. Paramount + has caught up with rights from soccer leagues around the world, ESPN + to the NHL and lacrosse, while Prime Video will soon be in conversation with the NFL.
The decision always seems to be a victory, victory for both sides. NBC would abandon the scoring medley that accompanies the Belmont every year. Fox would win a marquee event to promote and use with its other divisions to attract fans.
The Triple Crown is the first horse racing championship in the United States outside of the Breeder’s Cup. It kicks off the first Saturday in May with the Kentucky Derby, an annual media event that brings out celebrities and fancy hats that probably don’t represent your typical horse racing fan. Then the Preakness arrives two weeks later in Maryland, where the main draw appears to be taking place atop Port-o-Johns instead of the track race. Belmont, which is the longest of the races, still hinders the winner of the first two races. If no horse can achieve all three victories, interest collapses.
Will Fox find any payoffs, however, thanks to the emphasis on gambling? This is certainly enough on its own to attract fans of the game and their manners.