10/31/2002 12:00AM

Breeders' Cup ratings get first rise in years

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Final television ratings for the Breeders' Cup broadcast on NBC-TV last Saturday rose 18 percent over the ratings last year, NBC officials said Thursday.

The final rating for the five-hour broadcast was a 2.0, compared with last year's rating of 1.7. Share, or the percentage of televisions in use that were tuned to the broadcast, was a 5, equal to last year's share.

This year's rating was the highest since the 2.2 rating recorded in 1998. It was the first ratings increase for the Breeders' Cup telecast in seven years.

The broadcast peaked at 5:30 p.m. Eastern with a 2.7 rating and 6 share. The Breeders' Cup Classic went off at 5:41 p.m. Eastern.

NBC has broadcast the Breeders' Cup since its inception in 1984. The highest rating was recorded in 1988, when the broadcast had a 4.0 rating and an 11 share.