Horse races used to be rowdy affairs held in dusty fields and on country roads, where alcohol and fights were common. Then rich horse owners started building oval tracks with grandstands to show off their prized possessions in a friendlier environment.
In 1875, about 10,000 horse racing fans gathered at one such site in Louisville, Kentucky to watch the first Kentucky Derby. On that day, well-dressed spectators in the grandstands cheered wildly along with thousands of less fortunate folks lining the infield as Oliver Cross rode Aristides to the first Kentucky Derby winner’s circle.
His owner gleefully gathered up his prize of $2,850 and looked forward to more paydays ahead, perhaps at the same track where a new race would run daily.
Louisville’s horse racing track was later named Churchill Downs. It has hosted the Kentucky Derby every year since that first glorious day. There have been plenty of upgrades to the facility, but its twin-towered roof still makes it one of the most recognizable sports venues in the world.
This year’s winning jockey will earn over $2 million dollars for finishing faster than any of the 19 other horses to bolt out of the starting gates. Anyone who watches the race for the first time will quickly understand why the Kentucky Derby is commonly called “the most exciting two minutes in sports.”
Official broadcaster of the Kentucky Derby
NBC Sports continues its long-time affiliation with the Kentucky Derby. Almost five hours of pre-race hype and background stories will air on most of its national network affiliates leading up to the starting gun, which goes off around 6:18 pm on May 4.
Otherwise known as “the Run for the Roses” because of the rose-covered blanket draped over the victors in the winner’s circle, the Kentucky Derby is traditionally one of NBC Sports biggest events. Every NBC network affiliate across the country will show the actual race.
That means most cable and satellite television customers won’t have to buy a special package to watch the exciting events. But what about the legions of fans who have cut the cord with traditional TV companies or folks who might not be near a television?
Live stream options abound for the Kentucky Derby
NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app will deliver the Kentucky Derby live to your favorite computer or handheld device.
NBC Sports Gold is a subscription streaming service and specializes in providing live stream coverage of things not included in the over-the-air coverage. Besides the race, NBC Sports Gold will give fans access to the undercard and other events taking place all weekend.
NBC Sports.com, the NBC Sports app, and NBC Gold Sports are all geo-blocked, which means only fans in the United States can enjoy their live stream coverage of the Kentucky Derby.
Other non-cable options
NBC and NBC Sports are among the most accessible networks among streaming internet television providers.
Fubo TV’s basic channel package and the Fubo Extra selection each offer both NBC channels. If you’re not going to be home at race time, ask Fubo to use some of your 30 free DVR hours to record it for you.
Fubo is also experimenting with 4K on NBC Sports. They haven’t announced exactly what programs will or won’t be streamed in the upgraded quality, but there is a chance you can watch a higher quality live stream feed of the Kentucky Derby.
DirecTV Now and PlayStation Vue offer both NBC and NBC Sports in all their packages, and also offer DVR capabilities with most subscriptions. DirecTV has the NBC properties in the Spanish language packages, too.
Sling TV’s blue package or the combined blue-orange package will let you watch the live stream action of the Kentucky Derby on NBC or NBC Sports. Sling customers pay a small premium for DVR time.
Visit the USA via a Virtual Personal Network
Horse race fans who find themselves outside the United States can still watch the live stream feed of the Kentucky Derby if they use a quality VPN service.
VPN services provide large servers in countries around the world (and across the USA) that you can sign into. When NBC Sports receives your signal, it will bear the IP address of the local server and their live stream coverage will be available to you.
It is important to use a quality provider that protects your identity, offers solid protection from viruses, and has high internet connection speeds that allow you to clearly view live-action events.
ExpressVPN is one such provider. With military-grade encryption technologies, multiple servers and the highest connection speeds, you really can’t go wrong with ExpressVPN. But just in case you do, they offer live 24/7 customer service to help you get back on track.
Nord VPN is another highly reputable provider. Their list of specifics and capabilities is almost identical to ExpressVPN, including customer service.
If you are looking for a less expensive option, IPVanish offers high-speed connections with state-of-the-art encryption programs that will let you enjoy the live stream feed of the Kentucky Derby. If there is one knock on IPVanish, it is that their customer service is not live 24/7.
Be in the Winner’s Circle
The field is bigger, the seats are softer, and the grandstand is taller, but the excitement of that 1875 race crowd will be reflected in the whooping and hollering of thousands of horse racing fans for two raucous minutes at Churchill Downs.
Whether you watch it on a big screen TV at home, on your computer at work, or your favorite handheld device from anywhere… don’t miss it!