02/22/2011 11:36AM

NBC will broadcast entire Triple Crown through 2015

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For the first time since 2005, the Triple Crown will be under one roof, with NBC Sports Group announcing Tuesday that it has re-acquired the rights to the Belmont Stakes and the Preakness Stakes through 2015, mirroring an agreement it previously had in place with the Kentucky Derby.

NBC last broadcast the entire Triple Crown in 2005, before the New York Racing Association made a separate, five-year deal with ABC and ESPN to broadcast the Belmont. Now, once again, all three races will have the same home. ESPN announced last week that it had dropped out of negotiations for the Belmont, so Tuesday’s announcement, giving NBC the exclusive rights to all three races, was not unexpected.

In addition to those races being on NBC, there will be extensive shoulder programming on Versus, including the Kentucky Oaks, the Derby undercard, the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes at Pimlico, and the undercards on both Preakness and Belmont days. In total, there will be more than 25 hours of racing programming this spring on NBC and Versus. Both are part of the NBC Sports Group, whose majority owner is now Comcast.

NBC has broadcast the Derby and Preakness since 2001.

“Everyone at NBC Sports Group is delighted that the Triple Crown has been reassembled,” Dick Ebersol, chairman of NBC Sports Group, said in a press release. “We are now uniquely positioned to significantly expand the reach of these iconic events with extensive coverage on Versus. As we previously announced, we are continuing our long-standing partnership with the Kentucky Derby. To add this extension with the Preakness while reacquiring the Belmont gives our new NBC Sports Group the three most important events in Thoroughbred racing. And we want to thank Churchill Downs Incorporated and CEO Bob Evans for his leadership in paving the way for the Triple Crown to return to NBC.”

Tom Chuckas, president and chief operating officer of the Maryland Jockey Club, the home of the Preakness, said “Our relationship with NBC allows us the opportunity to reach more than just sports fans.”

“The partnership not only affords us the stature and exposure of a continued presence on network television but provides the added benefit of NBC’s consistent promotion through the Kentucky Derby leading into the Preakness,” Chuckas said.

“We are thrilled to return our premier race to NBC Sports,” said C. Steven Duncker, chairman of the NYRA, host of the Belmont. “They have done a terrific job covering horse racing, including their Kentucky Derby and the Preakness broadcasts over the prior decade. With an excellent production team that has pioneered innovative camera angles and a tremendous group of on-air talent that offers unique insights into the races, NBC Sports will be a great partner for the Belmont Stakes.”

Financial terms of the deals with the Preakness and Belmont were not disclosed.