Peacock adds Belmont Stakes to the mix

NBC has reacquired the final leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown.

Peacock has had the rights to the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes since 2001 and has extended that deal, but now the Belmont Stakes will return to NBC this spring through 2015. ABC and ESPN had the most recent rights to the Belmont, but negotiations with the New York Racing Assn. broke down last week, according to horse racing trade publication Daily Racing Form.

The last time all three Triple Crown races were on the same network was 2005, when the Peacock broadcast the races. Fall’s Breeders’ Cup, which provides the biggest purses in racing, was formerly on NBC until ABC/ESPN grabbed the rights in 2006 in an eight-year deal.

Other racing on Preakness and Belmont day will air on Versus — the sports carrier NBC added to its portfolio following the Comcast merger — as well as pre-Derby coverage.

“Everyone at NBC Sports Group is delighted that the Triple Crown has been reassembled. We are now uniquely positioned to significantly expand the reach of these iconic events with extensive coverage on Versus,” said NBC Sports Group chairman Dick Ebersol.

Financial terms of the pact weren’t disclosed.

The Kentucky Derby drew 16.5 million viewers last year, the biggest audience since 1989, when 18.5 million tuned in to watch.

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