NBC Universal Sports has a clear strategy for the Kentucky Derby: Watch the "event" and stay for the race.
NBC will use its "Big Event Strategy" which they used with great success with the coverage of the Beijing Olympics. This strategy involves making full use of its varied television networks and online platforms. Hence look for segments this week on the NBC Today Show and NBC produced "Access Hollywood" as well as on all NBC owned online sites.
NBC will also this year for the first time show the Oaks on it's Bravo Network. That one hour show on Friday will be titled: “Ladies First: Bravo at the Kentucky Derby".
Nancy O'Dell of Access Hollywood will host the Friday Bravo show along with (wince now racing purists) Bethenny Frankel of Bravo's Real Housewives-NYC show.
The Bravo website describes Frankel as a "horseracing afficianado". The program will feature a "Top Chef" cooking segment, a feature on Derby fashion and a segment on how to throw a Derby party. If you have any doubt the program isn't geared for the casual fan, the Bravo Website promo makes no mention whatsoever of the actual big race that day-The Kentucky Oaks. I assume somewhere during the hour they will squeeze in a word or two and one hopes a full live showing of the Oaks.
But maybe NBC knows what they are doing. According to NBC the only other sporting event besides the Kentucky Derby to draw a higher percentage of woman viewers is the Olympics. All in all, this is the type of sporting event NBC does well. Since taking over Derby coverage from ABC in the year 2001, NBC has averaged a very impressive 8.8 rating for the 8 past years (2001-2009). ABC averaged a 6.7 rating for the prior 8 years (1993-2000) before NBC took over.
Sources: The Nielsen Company
NBC Universal Sports