NBC is on the verge of losing one of the marquee sporting events that it has left on the network. While the NFL returned years back, NBC Sports has lost plenty from the MLB to NBA. Now their horse racing coverage could be going away from one of the biggest races of the year.
The Belmont Stakes is potentially changing hands to Fox Sports, according to Michael McCarthy from Front Office Sports. NBC will lose their current deal in 2022, missing out on the third leg of the Triple Crown after 11 years. NBC will still be the home to the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, with McCarthy noting how Belmont doesn't garner as much juice without a triple crown contender.
NBC has controlled rights to Belmont Stakes for 11 years. Even though it is poised to lose them to rival Fox Sports, NBC will retain the rights to Kentucky Derby + Preakness Stakes. The Belmont doesn't generate as much juice as the other two unless there's Triple Crown contender.— Michael McCarthy (@MMcCarthyREV) December 3, 2021
To make the matter more of a certainty, Fox Sports' impending deal reportedly includes a "multimillion sponsorship" with Fox Bet Sportsbook. NBC has held onto the Derby and Preakness for years, with the Belmont initially splitting due to the New York Racing Association withdrawing from a package Triple Crown deal.
Exclusivity seems to be the next major gamble for media companies in the sports world. According to The Streamable, they are popular due to the power of live events to get people to sit through commercials. Paramount+ has caught up rights to soccer leagues across the globe, ESPN+ has NHL and lacrosse, while Prime Video will soon be in the conversation with the NFL.
The decision still seems like a win, win for both sides. NBC would ditch the rating potpourri that comes with the Belmont every year. Fox would gain a marquee event to promote and use with their other divisions to draw in fans.
The Triple Crown is the premier horse racing championship in the United States outside of the Breeder's Cup. It begins on the first Saturday in May with The Kentucky Derby, a media event annually that brings out celebrities and fancy hats that likely don't represent your typical horse racing fan. Then the Preakness comes two weeks later in Maryland, where the main draw seems to be racing on top of Port-o-Johns instead of the race on the track. Belmont, which is the longest of the races, always hinders on the winner of the first two races. If no horse can take all three victories, interest plummets.
Will Fox find some wins, though, courtesy of the gambling focus? It's certainly enough on its own to draw in gambling fans and their ways.