Justify was an impressive winner of the 144th running of the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, but he couldn't beat the NBA.
According to the Racing Form, NBC reported that the overnight ratings for the network's Derby telecast fell by 13 percent from 2017, thanks in large part to going head-to-head with the Boston Celtics-Philadelphia 76ers playoff game on ESPN.
In the one-hour portion of the telecast that included the race itself, won by the Bob Baffert-trained Justify, the Derby earned a 9.1 rating and 21 percent share, according to Nielsen. That's down from a 10.5 rating and 23 percent share in 2017 when the race did not go up against an NBA playoff game.
The 9.1 for this year's race was the lowest overnight television rating since 2012 when the Derby earned a 9.0. I'll Have Another, trained by Doug O'Neill, captured the Run for the Roses in 2012.
Lisa Bucholtz of Awful Announcing was no fan of this year's telecast.
"NBC promoted its longest-ever Derby coverage this year. Quantity, as usual, does not mean quality," she wrote. "This was a lot of bloat without a lot of substance. Next year, they should focus on more behind-the-scenes, soft voiceover pieces, several of which were teased but few of which I recall actually seeing. And there should be more real racing analysis if they insist on this lengthy coverage. They should stay away from the retread pieces that we see every year."
There was one bit of good television news for horse racing. This year's Kentucky Derby still posted the highest rating for any NBC Saturday broadcast since the Winter Olympic broadcast of 2017.