Could the ponies make a break for a rival network? Reports suggest NBC may lose the broadcast rights for the Belmont Stakes, and FOX may scoop them up. NBC’s deal expires after the 2022 race.
Front Office Sports is reporting that the deal could involve a multimillion-dollar sponsorship of the race by FOXBet. Even if the Belmont moves to FOX, NBC would still retain the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes.
NBC may have soured on the race since interest in horse racing declines with each stage of the Triple Crown if one horse isn’t poised to take the whole thing. The Kentucky Derby is the first Saturday in May, Preakness is two weeks later, and the Belmont is the third Saturday after the Preakness. There have only been two Triple Crown winners in the last 40 years (American Pharoah in 2015 and Justify in 2018). And over the entire history of the race, 23 horses missed the Triple Crown with a loss in the crucial final run.
From 1986 until 2005, the Triple Crown television rights comprised a single package. In 2004, the New York Racing Association withdrew from that agreement to negotiate independently. NBC held the Derby and the Preakness, but ABC snagged the Belmont for a 5-year deal. NBC reeled in Belmont again after the 2010 race, and it’s held the rights ever since.
Sports rights have become highly coveted in the streaming world, since live events are one of the only things that can draw viewers to watch commercials. In just the past year, there’s been a wild scramble to pick up sports rights as platforms like Paramount+ grab soccer leagues, Prime Video barged its way into the NFL, ESPN+ grabbed NHL and lacrosse, and the Bally Sports drama leaves sports fans with few options to watch RSNs.
Browser-based live video production suite Graybo found that 79 percent of global sports fans would watch online streams of sporting events exclusively if they could — and kick TV to the curb.