10/30/2007 12:00AM

BC ratings rise slightly

EmailThe final national rating for the Breeders' Cup broadcast on ESPN on Saturday was a 0.87, a slight improvement over last year's rating of 0.85, according to a spokesman for the network, Mark Mandel.

The rating - which equates to 1.05 million viewers - is still a 50 percent decline compared with the last year in which the Breeders' Cup was broadcast on NBC in 2005. That year, the rating was a 1.5. Ratings on the Breeders' Cup have been in a steady decline since the event was first held in 1984.

NBC had broadcast the event every year until ESPN took over in 2006 under an eight-year contract that includes revenue-sharing elements with Breeders' Cup.

The broadcast on Saturday, which ran from noon until 6:08 p.m., competed against college football games on most of the major network.

According to Mandel, the last hour of the telecast, when the Turf and Classic were shown live, drew a rating of 1.02, down 1 percent from last year.