The Kentucky Derby just got considerably more ‘fabulous’ with the addition of figure skaters turned broadcasters Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski to the NBC and NBCSN broadcasting lineup for the event. Weir and Lipinski were by far the most entertaining broadcasters at the Sochi Olympics–admittedly not a particularly highly set bar–and have taken their act to other events including the Academy Awards and the Best of U.S. Awards.
The pair will focus on the fashion at the Kentucky Derby no doubt with an emphasis on the event’s iconic hats. Rob Hyland of NBC Sports explained:
“Johnny and Tara have an infectious energy that will bring a fun and fresh perspective to our Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks telecast. They will be in their element amid the big-event atmosphere and pageantry of Churchill Downs.”
One primary reason for adding Weir and Lipinski to the broadcast is the sizable female viewership of the Kentucky Derby. According to an AP report on the story only the Olympics has a larger percentage of female viewers:
“Slightly more than half of NBC’s Derby viewers last year were women attracted to the party, the Nielsen company said. No other major TV sports event, with the exception of the Olympics, is so weighted toward female viewers, NBC said.”
Lipinski says that the duo’s breakout success at the Sochi Olympics was a huge surprise. Viewers were clearly tired of self important bores like Bob Costas and gravitated toward the high energy fun offered by Weir and Lipinski:
“We’ve always loved loud fashion and sort of bonded over it. The whole Olympics experience was a bit of a surprise. We came in and were focused on doing a good job as rookies. But we’re young and we like to have fun. The fashion was specifically for us every day and it was like, ‘Oh, people are watching. This is fun.’”
Now Weir and Lipinski will shake up the same sort of stodgy commentary at the Kentucky Derby. If for no other reason, viewers will almost be compelled to tune in just to see what the flamboyant Weir will wear for the Kentucky Derby.