05/25/2005 11:00PM

Preakness TV ratings drop


The 90-minute NBC broadcast of the Preakness Stakes on Saturday received a 5.1 final television rating, down 16 percent from last year, and a 13 share, down 13 percent from last year, officials for NBC said Thursday.

Last year's rating, a 6.1, was the highest for the Preakness Stakes since 1990. The ratings were driven by the appearance of Smarty Jones, one of the most popular horses of the last 20 years. The share last year was a 15.

Mike McCarley, a spokesman for NBC, said that the rating this year compared favorably with the rating in 2003, a 5.0. That Preakness was won by Funny Cide, who had earlier won the Kentucky Derby.

For the five years that NBC has broadcast the Preakness, the average rating has been a 5.5, up 41 percent compared with the average rating for a Preakness from 1996 to 2000, when the Triple Crown races were broadcast by ABC-TV.