NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- On Saturday, horse California Chrome will try to accomplish something that hasn't been down since 1978. The highly anticipated Belmont Stakes offers a chance for California Chrome to win the Triple Crown of horse racing, after first winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. The suspense carries some opportunities for investors, including the sponsor Skechers (SKX) and track facilities owner Churchill Downs (CHDN). Here are three storylines to follow that include companies involved with the Triple Crown.
Due to the increased interest of the Belmont Stakes, NBC Sports is capitalizing on the potential of more viewers. The cable sports network owned by Comcast (CMCSA) has devoted 16 hours of programming to the race from Wednesday through Saturday, double the original amount it forecast. Saturday's coverage begins at 2:30 pm and will go through the 8 p.m. time slot, with a full amount of post-race commentary.
A Triple Crown win could increase interest in horse racing, which would likely boost ratings for NBC Sports' other televised horse races. The company has the rights to the Breeders Cup (Oct. 31, Nov. 1). This year, Comcast will air several pre-Breeders Cup races on NBC and NBC Sports throughout the summer and fall.
NBC Sports continues to post strong numbers in viewership. The cable channel doesn't have huge deals with popular sports like rival ESPN, owned by Disney (DIS). NBC Sports is seeing strong growth in soccer, hockey, and horse racing though. The 2013-2014 season of the English Premier League soccer saw 31 million viewers, more than double the amount watched last year on ESPN, ESPN2 and Fox Soccer. NBC Sports has put key games on television and saw strong viewership from a tight title race that went down to the wire. NBC Sports has a 10-year television deal with the National Hockey League, which is paying off handsomely this season. The 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs saw the key television markets of New York, Los Angeles and Chicago reach the semifinals. With New York and Los Angeles in the Stanley Cup Finals, viewership should continue to rise. The seven game series between the Chicago Blackhawks and New York Rangers saw 4.1 million viewers, the highest game for NBC Sports. This ranked second for Sunday night, trailing only Game of Thrones, the hit HBO show.
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