The Breeders' Cup and NBC announced a new television agreement beginning in 2012 that will return North America's premiere event to the first network to broadcast it back in 1984. Additionally, for the first time ever, the Breeders' Cup Classic will be broadcast in primetime on network television, while the majority of Breeders' Cup Friday and Saturday will be shown on the re-branded NBC Sports Network (formerly Versus).
ESPN/ABC broadcast the Breeders' Cup from 2005 to 2011.
The full press release from the Breeders' Cup and NBC:
The Breeders' Cup and the NBC Sports Group today announced a multi-year media rights partnership beginning with the 2012 Breeders' Cup World Championships, November 2-3, from Santa Anita Park, featuring the first-ever running of the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic in primetime. The agreement was announced by Craig Fravel, Breeders' Cup Limited President and CEO, and Jon Miller, President of Programming, NBC Sports and NBC Sports Network.
NBC and NBC Sports Network will combine to present 9 ½ hours of live coverage of the 2012 Breeders' Cup from Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif., including live primetime coverage of the Breeders' Cup Classic on NBC on Saturday, Nov. 3 (8-9 p.m. ET). This marks the first time in its history that the Classic is broadcast live in primetime. The Breeders' Cup returns to NBC where it was broadcast from its inception in 1984 through 2005. Financial terms of the deals were not disclosed.
"Everyone here is delighted that the Breeders' Cup has returned home," said Jon Miller, President, Programming, NBC Sports and NBC Sports Network. "Bringing back this prestigious event, combined with our long-term partnerships for the Triple Crown with Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby, in addition to the Preakness and Belmont cements the NBC Sports Group as the home of horse racing."
The Breeders' Cup, Thoroughbred racing's most prestigious global racing event, consists of 15 races held over two-days with over $25 million in purses at stake. The culminating event of the Breeders' Cup, the Breeders' Cup Classic, is contested at 1 ¼ miles on the main track, for 3-year-olds and older, and is often the determining race for the coveted Horse of the Year title. Over the years, 11 Classic winners have been voted Horse of the Year. In 2009 at Santa Anita Park, the great racemare Zenyatta became the first female to ever win the Classic.
"We are extremely excited to begin our new relationship with NBC and the NBC Sports Group in televising the Breeders' Cup World Championships as the finale to its expanded commitment to Thoroughbred racing," said Craig Fravel, President and CEO of Breeders' Cup Ltd. "In addition to fans enjoying the best in international competition over the two days of the Championships on NBC Sports Network, we look forward to NBC showcasing the Breeders' Cup Classic in primetime."
2012 BREEDERS' CUP TELEVISION SCHEDULE:
All Times Live, ET
Friday, November 2 4-8 p.m. NBC Sports Network
Saturday, November 3 3:30-8 p.m. NBC Sports Network
Saturday, November 3 8-9 p.m. NBC
NBC SPORTS GROUP AND HORSE RACING: The NBC Sports Group is the exclusive home to the most important and prestigious events in horse racing, including the Triple Crown and the Breeders' Cup, which was broadcast on NBC from 1984-2005. Last year marked the first time that all three Triple Crown races appeared on one network since NBC last aired the Triple Crown in 2005. NBC has been the exclusive home of the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes since 2001.
NBC Sports Group is also the home to Summer at Saratoga, seven straight weekends of live horse racing from Saratoga Race Course, and, in November, NBC partnered with The Jockey Club for a Road to the Kentucky Derby series that will provide live coverage of six major prep races for the 2012 Kentucky Derby
Breeders' Cup Limited
The Breeders' Cup administers the Breeders' Cup World Championships, Thoroughbred racing's year-end Championships. The Breeders' Cup also administers the Breeders' Cup Challenge qualifying series, which provides automatic starting positions into the Championships races. The 2012 Breeders' Cup World Championships will be held Nov. 2-3 at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif. Breeders' Cup press releases appear on the Breeders' Cup Web site, www.breederscup.com. You can also follow the Breeders' Cup on social media platforms, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
UPDATE: ESPN has released a statement regarding the agreement between the Breeders' Cup and NBC:
In the last few years, ESPN has reduced its coverage of horse racing and this event no longer fits with our overall content strategy. We value our relationship with the Breeders' Cup and jointly decided this is the best option for their event. We look forward to continuing to work with them on international coverage.