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Kentucky Derby Dips Slightly to 15.5 Million Viewers

Winner Nyquist is no American Pharoah — at least in terms of initial viewership

Nyquist may have beaten American Pharoah’s time at the Kentucky Derby, but the colt couldn’t top the Triple Crown winner’s TV ratings.

NBC’s “Run for the Roses” on Saturday dipped 3 percent year over year to 15.5 million total viewers. Last year, the race averaged 16 million.

The world’s most famous equine-sprint peaked at 17.9 million total viewers from 6:45 to 7 p.m. ET — when Nyquist crossed the finish line. That was the same as last year’s top quarter-hour.

NBC Sports Live Extra’s presentation of the Kentucky Derby ranks as the most-streamed Kentucky Derby ever, delivering 7 million minutes, up 75 percent from last year’s 3 million minutes. The stream also delivered a record 225,000 unique users.

Nyquist bested American Pharoah’s 2015 time by nearly two seconds, with 2:01.31 over the mile-and-a-quarter versus a 2:03.02.

For the first time ever, NBC used the Derby as a lead-in for playoff hockey. It paid off to the tune of 4.164 million million viewers for the Pittsburgh Penguins-Washington Capitals Game 5 — the second-most watched non-Stanley Cup Final game in 23 years.

Below are the prior races’ ratings, along with year and network. Winners are listed on the far right.

2016 15.5 million NBC Nyquist
2015 16.0 million NBC American Pharoah
2014 15.3 million NBC California Chrome
2013 16.2 million NBC Orb
2012 14.8 million NBC I’ll Have Another
2011 14.5 million NBC Animal Kingom
2010 16.5 million NBC Super Saver
2009 16.1 million NBC Mine That Bird
2008 14.2 million NBC Big Brown
2007 13.7 million NBC Street Sense
2006 12.9 million NBC Barbaro
2005 13.6 million NBC Giacomo
2004 14.6 million NBC Smarty Jones
2003 11.8 million NBC Funny Cide
2002 12.8 million NBC War Emblem
2001 13.5 million NBC Monarchos
2000 9.1 million ABC Fusaichi Pegasus
1999 9.9 million ABC Charismatic
1998 9.5 million ABC Real Quiet
1997 11.3 million ABC Silver Charm
1996 11.0 million ABC Grindestone
1995  9.3 million ABC Thunder Gulch
1994 12.2 million ABC Go For Gin
1993 11.5 million ABC Sea Hero
1992 13.7 million ABC Lil E Tee
1991 13.4 million ABC Strike The Gold
1990 15.6 million ABC Unbridled
1989 18.5 million ABC Sunday Silence