By the time NBC Universal broadcasts the closing ceremony of next year’s Summer Olympics, it will have provided more coverage from Beijing in a little more than two weeks than the total of all the Olympics since 1960.
Ever since 2000, NBC Uni has used its broadcast and cable platforms to provide hours of Olympics coverage day and night. The big-ticket primetime events always go to NBC, which devotes its entire schedule and then some to the games and brings along “Today” and “NBC Nightly News” as well. Other NBC Uni outlets including USA, MSNBC and even CNBC get into the act as well as its Spanish-language network, Telemundo.
But in 2008, NBC Uni will take it exponentially further. The company will carry a record 3,600 hours of Olympic events live between the opening ceremony Aug. 8 and the closing Aug. 24. That’s more than triple the 1,210 hours NBC did in 2004 and 20 times more than the 171 hours from Atlanta in 1996.
“It’s a big operation,” said the man charged with running coverage for NBC, Olympics executive producer David Neal. “We’ll be delivering more content from Beijing than we ever have for an Olympics.”
To be sure, most of those hours of coverage won’t be on TV. NBC, USA, MSNBC, CNBC and Telemundo will have hours of coverage, as will their high-definition channels. But 2,200 hours have been added through the dramatic expansion of broadband and digital platforms, far exceeding what was available in technology or coverage even four years ago.
“The hours of broadband and Internet coverage is adding extra layers in a very robust and timely way,” Neal said. “It’s new territory for us. It’s taking what is already a very challenging endeavor and maxing it out.”
Like the games themselves, when multiple events are being held at multiple venues all at once, NBC is going to allow viewers to watch almost everything they could ever hope for at NBCOlympics.com. And though cell phone technology isn’t yet as ubiquitous, NBC also will offer live events that way. Those plans have yet to be announced.
The Olympics are immensely important to NBC — Beijing will be its fifth Olympics since 2000, and it paid $2.2 billion in June 2003 for the rights to the 2010 and 2012 games. That’s up 32% from the $1.5 billion NBC paid for the 2006 and 2008 games. NBC bills itself as “America’s Olympics Network,” part of a strategy that gradually has changed its focus to such premier sports properties as Wimbledon and the NFL in addition to the Olympics.
It’s an all-encompassing endeavor that also heavily involves NBC parent company General Electric, whose units that sell jet engines and medical imaging equipment stand to benefit from the close contact NBC has with China for the Olympics. GE expects $500 million in additional revenue stemming from the games; it took in $900 million for the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. A recent report in the Financial Times, which NBC and GE execs denied, said that GE has delayed putting NBC on the block until the 2008 Olympics are over.
[Via Hollywood Reporter]