Derby hits highest viewing figure since 2013 as 1.8 million tune into ITV
ITV Racing's lead presenter Ed Chamberlin was on Sunday both delighted and relieved by viewing figures showing that the Investec Derby audience peaked at 1.8 million, up from last year's 1.7m, with audience share hitting 20 per cent.
The average audience share, both last year and this, were higher than in any year the Derby was covered by Channel 4 during its last rights contract – the previous best having been when the BBC showed the event in 2012 – while Saturday's peak figure was the highest since 2013.
Chamberlin, who compared presenting the Derby on Saturday to working at Anfield or Highbury in his former career as a football presenter with Sky Sports, said: "The figures are really pleasing. We won't get carried away but when I was working in football I was always told the Derby was in decline, so it's nice to have reversed that a bit.
"We won't stand still though or be in any way complacent, because we can definitely improve again. It's good to be going in the right direction."
The Derby is a "two earpieces" occasion for Chamberlin, who explained: "It's one of the harder ones to present. It's the one most like my old job, presenting Premier League football, as Epsom is such a cauldron.
"There's such intensity, a cacophony of noise as they come up the straight with crowds on either side.
"It's the one place where I wear two earpieces for the big races, because I have to block out all the noise so I can hear my director and producer. Where else in racing would that happen? It's a bit like Highbury or Anfield in that respect, but I absolutely love it."
DERBY DAY PEAK AUDIENCES
2018 ITV 1.8m
2017 ITV 1.7m
2016 C4 1.4m
2015 C4 1.5m
2014 C4 1.6m
2013 C4 2.0m
2012 BBC 3.3m
2011 BBC 3.2m
2010 BBC 1.9m
2009 BBC 2.8m
2008 BBC 3.0m
2007 BBC 3.1m
2006 BBC 4.1m
Reflecting on the content of Saturday's show, Chamberlin said: "We had Johnny Murtagh interviewing the Aga Khan on a day when he was also playing trainer and pundit, but my personal highlight was the piece Brough Scott did on Lester Piggott, 50 years on from Sir Ivor, with fantastic old footage dug out by [producer] Tim Williams, some of it in black and white.
"We also got to speak to Sheikh Mohammed. As soon as they passed the post Johnny Murtagh said what a big moment it was for racing, and he was absolutely right. Sport needs competition and the Godolphin blue winning the Derby is great for all of us.
"It was a shame Saxon Warrior's bubble burst and that the Triple Crown is no longer on the table, but now we have two big powerhouses again it really is game on.
"It feels a bit like Man United getting their powers back in an era of Man City dominance. There are going to be some great head to heads this summer."