Most of the advertisers for Saturday's NBC telecast of the Belmont Stakes are stuck. Although I'll Have Another was scratched, abandoning his bid to win the Triple Crown, sponsors who bought in will have to deal with the almost-certain plummet in ratings.
The "vast majority" of sponsors bought a package that covered all three Triple Crown events plus other races that air on NBC and NBC Sports Network, a statement from the network said Friday.
The network accepted only two major buys after I'll Have Another won the Triple Crown's second leg, the Preakness. "We will work with those two advertisers on a suitable solution to make them whole," an NBC spokesman said in an emailed statement.
For major events such as the Super Bowl, networks release some financial details, but NBC was tight-lipped about its per-30-second ad rate for the Triple Crown broadcasts, and would not discuss total ad buys either.
But it did say that the package arrangement for several races minimized the network's risk. "The financial impact to us is minimal," the spokesman said.
That's of little comfort to advertisers, who expected greater exposure from a sport that is otherwise struggling.
Last year's Belmont Stakes on NBC, in which a Triple Crown win was not a possibility, reportedly had 6.8 million viewers. In the two previous Belmont Stakes races in which a horse had a shot at the first Triple Crown since 1978, the telecast drew 13.1 million viewers (2008) and 21.9 million viewers (2004).
"They knew what they were getting into when they bought the ads," ad consultant Peter Shankman told The Huffington Post.