I haven't posted since May, but now I have something to say.
Am I the only one who noticed that this year's NBC Sports coverage of Saratoga racing is much less than previous years? NBC is showing perhaps as little as 40-something percent of previous years' Saratoga coverage. They are only here three days this year, and unlike past years will not show this weekend's Jim Dandy stakes! Last year, NBC was here 7 days total, and in 2012 they were here 5 days, and in 2011 they were for eight days. In fact, in 2011 NBC was here every weekend of the track. The only national networks carrying this year's Jim Dandy coverage seem to be TVG & HRTV. Incidentally, for some time now TVG has been available on Time Warner as part of a sports package that will set you back $8 or so a month.
It's not just the number of days that NBC is here that has dwindled, but the number of races covered on most of those days has declined precipitously as well. For instance, in previous years Travers Day's TV coverage featured four stakes races, but starting last year it was reduced to just two races.
Wheras I was happy to see Fox Sports 1 step into Saratoga coverage, Fox is still in its infancy in televising horseracing. I saw some of their coverage at Belmont last month and it was really just the NYRA announcers using Fox microphones - it was an honest effort but still pretty rudimentary without the experienced professionalism and star power of NBC. Maybe they'll hit their stride at some point - it just won't be this year.
It doesn't even seem that NBC is using the tag "Summer at Saratoga" anymore. To show you how things have changed in just one year, below I will put NBC Sports' 2014 Saratoga coverage and below that I will put its 2013 coverage. This is just something that I noticed that I don't think anyone else has written about, so I am sharing my thoughts. Have a great weekend!
NBC Coverage of Saratoga 2014
Saturday, 8/2; 5-6 PM NBC Test Stakes and Whitney Stakes
Saturday, 8/23; 4:30-6 PM NBC Ballerina and Travers
Saturday, 8/30; 6-7 PM NBCSN Forego and Woodward
NBC Summer at Saratoga 2013 schedule
Saturday, July 27: Grade 1, $600,000 Diana and Grade 2, $600,000 Jim Dandy (5-6pm on NBC Sports Network)
Saturday, August 3: Grade 1, $750,000 Whitney Invitational Handicap (5-6pm on NBC)
Saturday, August 10: Grade 2, $500,000 Fourstardave Handicap (5-6pm on NBC)
Sunday, August 11: Grade 2, $200,000 Adirondack and Grade 2, $200,000 Saratoga Special (5-6pm on NBC Sports Network)
Saturday, August 17: Grade 1, $600,000 Alabama and Grade 1, $600,000 Sword Dancer Invitational (5-6pm on NBC Sports Network)
Saturday, August 24: Grade 1, $500,000 Foxwoods King’s Bishop and Grade 1, $1 million Travers (4:30-6pm on NBC)
Saturday, August 31: Grade 2, $250,000 Bernard Baruch Handicap, G1 $500,000 Forego and Grade 1, $750,000 Woodward (4-6pm on NBC Sports Network)