How to watch the 2024 Kentucky Derby live without cable, including limited free options

Dust off your finest hats—it’s Derby day.

This year marks the 150th Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. The horse race has occurred annually on a Saturday in May since it began on May 17, 1875, with the only exceptions being 1945 due to World War II and 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Kentucky Derby will air today (Saturday, May 4) on NBC, with coverage beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET. Post time is at 6:57 p.m. ET.

Be punctual because this athletic event only lasts about two minutes, which is why it’s known as “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports.”

Even though the main event is relatively short, fans and viewers at home can make a whole day of it. There’s much hype to see the 20 competing 3-year-old thoroughbreds race to be the fastest over a distance of 1.25 miles. Most jockeys dream of winning, and this year 16 of the 20 have the chance to be first-time winners.

A brief history of the Kentucky Derby

The Kentucky Derby was created by Colonel Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr. (Yes, he was the grandson of William Clark of Lewis and Clark fame.) He was inspired to do so after attending the Epsom Derby in Surrey, England. Some 10,000 people attended the inaugural race, which was won by a jockey named Oliver Lewis and a colt named Aristides. Winners are always draped in roses after their victory.

Hats are a big part of Derby tradition as well. This began frankly out of necessity. It’s hot and sunny in May in Louisville and people need protection from the sun. These days, the fashion isn’t always functional but it makes a great Instagram post and statement.

Which horse is the favorite in this year’s Derby?

Going into the big day, Fierceness is the 5-2 favorite to win. Other contenders include Sierra Leone, with 3-1 odds, and Catching Freedom, with 8-1 odds. It’s interesting to note that a favorite has not won the Derby since 2018, and Fierceness will be competing from the only post position that has never produced a winner (apparently 17 is not a lucky number for Derby horses).

How can I watch or stream the 2024 Kentucky Derby live?

If you’re not one of the more than 150,000 people expected to attend the festivities in person, you can watch the sport and pageantry in a number of ways.

Beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET, the NBC network and the streaming service Peacock will be broadcasting all the fun.

Live-TV streaming services that offer NBC as part of a bundle are another great option. Hulu + Live TV carries NBC and has a three-day free trial for new and select returning subscribers. Depending on your location, Sling TV Blue and YouTube TV may also carry NBC and have free trial options for new users.

Finally, if you’re watching on a computer or mobile device via the NBC website or app, you can do that live in many markets if you have a pay-TV provider that allows for it. NBC offers how-to instructions here.

Let’s see which horse gives the others a run for their money.