NBC is making sure fans of the Summer Olympic Games from Rio can watch more coverage than ever.
The network will produce 2,084 hours of programming on NBC, Telemundo, Bravo, CNBC, Golf Channel, MSNBC, NBC Sports Network, NBC Universo and USA. There are two specialty channels provided to distribution partners, one each for basketball and soccer. Add in the streaming services, and there will be almost 7,000 hours of coverage to watch.
The West Coast will get a tape-delayed version of the East Coast telecast during the evening prime-time hours on NBC. Swimming will anchor the first week, while track and field will take over the second week. Live action and results before the evening telecast are available through live streaming.
Executive Producer Jim Bell said it isn’t just the amount of hours that’s important.
“We’re thrilled about the quality and the backdrop that this city has to offer. And this Olympic team from NBC, who has been doing this for so long, and will continue to be doing it for so long, is really thrilled to be here, the site of the first Olympics ever to take place in South America,” Bell said.
The coverage reflects changing viewing habits.
Bob Costas, host of the NBC prime-time broadcast, points out the expanded coverage makes it possible for fans to watch lesser-known sports.
“Every interest is being served, and sometimes in the course of that, you make new fans. At the Winter Olympics, curling becomes somehow, outside Canada, a sport that people, at least for those 2 1/2 weeks, are obsessed with in South Dakota or in Timbuktu. So I guess it’s created fans or followings for niche sports as well,” Costas said.
But the NBC team also knows exactly where the main interest in the Games falls.
“The heart of what we concentrate on in prime time is track and field, swimming, gymnastics, beach volleyball, a little bit of indoor volleyball, diving – platform diving is especially popular,” Costas says. “We’ll show the gold medal basketball game, which we anticipate that the Americans will be in, and we’ll show little bits and pieces of other moments that are exciting or touching or interesting or poignant, but those half dozen really make up the core of what the largest number of Americans want to see.”
Expect a lot of news mixed in with the coverage. There have already been reports about the financial problems Brazil is facing, corruption charges with officials and the fears of the Zika virus or the antibiotic-resistant bacterium MRSA. Costas said coverage plans include not just acknowledging, but framing, all of these issues into the impact they have on the Games.
Coverage begins with the opening ceremony on Friday, Aug. 5, on NBC. The Games conclude on Sunday, Aug. 21, with the closing ceremony.
Other notes about NBCUniversal’s coverage:
▪ It is presenting its 15th Olympic Games and ninth consecutive, both the most by any U.S. media company. ABC is second with 10 and four, respectively.
▪ It has exclusive U.S. media rights for all Olympic Games through 2032.
▪ The hours of coverage for Rio are 1,220 more than was produced for London in 2012 (5,535) and is an Olympic programming record.
▪ Telemundo and NBC Universo, home of the Olympics in Spanish in the U.S., will present 273.5 hours of coverage, the most extensive Olympic coverage in the history of U.S. Spanish-language television, and 100 hours more than London 2012 (173.5).