Inspired Entertainment has reported that 1.7 million viewers tuned in to watch 13 Triple Crown winners battle it out in the firm’s “The Kentucky Derby: Triple Crown Showdown” virtual race at the weekend. In a virtual race for the ages, Secretariat emerged as the ultimate champion, winning the race 47 years after winning the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.
The race featured as part of Churchill Downs’ nationwide “Kentucky Derby at Home” party, and was televised at the culmination of NBC’s broadcast which included a look back at American Pharoah’s 2015 Derby win.
The day of programming celebrated the traditional date of the Kentucky Derby following postponement of the 146th running until September 5 this year. The virtual race allowed viewers to experience the magic of the Derby using the latest, best-in-class graphics and animation and featured a stunning, fully accurate re-creation of the Twin Spires of Churchill Downs and the traditional atmosphere of the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May.
“This was a great event for everyone involved — Churchill Downs got to celebrate on their traditional Derby day, racing fans got to see the greatest-of-all-time face off, we had the opportunity to showcase the realism of our Virtual Horse Racing product, and it was all for a good cause,” said Brooks Pierce, President and Chief Operating Officer of Inspired.
“Virtual Sports have been popular in Europe for years, but putting together The Kentucky Derby: Triple Crown Showdown for a national television broadcast was a great marketing opportunity for our Virtual Sports in the US. In addition to the extensive viewership, social media was abuzz for Kentucky Derby at Home, with 91% positive sentiment before and after the race. This is a great example of how Virtual Sports can plug the gap and bring people together for some relief during these difficult times, just as real sports do.”
Bill Carstanjen, CEO of Churchill Downs Incorporated, commented: “While we await Kentucky Derby 146 in September, our partnership with Inspired Entertainment in creating the virtual Derby not only allowed fans celebrating Kentucky Derby at Home a chance to experience the thrill of a race at Churchill Downs together, but the excitement leading up to it gave us a platform to raise and match funds for important COVID-19 relief efforts.”