The Derby Goes Digital

Along with its 14 hours of Kentucky Derby television coverage, this year NBC Sports Group is bringing all the action from Churchill Downs to the Web. For the first time, all of the Triple Crown races – starting with the Derby this week and continuing with the Preakness and Belmont Stakes – will be streamed live on In addition to the main broadcast feed, the site will include four alternate camera angles from the track for the maximum horse racing experience. The site will also have online-only analysis from its NBC and Versus commentators, including footage of the prep races that have been going on since April.

The online strategy for the Derby is patterned off what NBC did with Sunday Night Football in the fall. As it did then, the NBC Sports all-access page will aggregate the Twitter feeds of announcers, trainers, jockeys, owners and others participating in the races. It will also have streaming video of taped segments, like morning workouts and interviews with jockeys, and results from the day’s other races. “We’re making sure we have quality content and programming to complement the television show,” says Fred Gaudelli, a producer at NBC Sports for SNF and the Triple Crown.

NBC will have an embedded digital producer at the race to update their Facebook and Twitter accounts with behind-the-scenes footage and photos using the #DerbyonNBC hashtag. For fashion-lovers, there will be a red carpet camera documenting all the celebrity arrivals, and fans can submit photos of themselves in their Derby hats via Facebook and Twitter; NBC will show their favorites hats on TV on Derby Day May 7.

Execs say it’s the biggest social media push for a sporting event on NBC, taking a page from other recent expansive social strategies, like NBC News’ royal wedding coverage and the entertainment division’s launch of The Voice last week. Gaudelli isn’t sure whether the digital extras will be equal for the other Triple Crown races this year, but hopes that they would. “Once you establish these things and create a following,” he says, “it just builds upon itself.”