NBC anticipates almost everything but profits in London Olympics coverage over several formats

  • Article by: DAVID BAUDER , Associated Press
  • Updated: June 15, 2012 - 12:29 PM

NEW YORK - If you miss any of your favorite events during the upcoming Summer Olympics in London, don't blame NBC.

Every sport, every single competition will be streamed live online or telecast by NBC and its affiliated cable networks in the U.S. this summer — starting with the Great Britain vs. New Zealand women's soccer game on July 25, two days before the opening ceremony.

It will be the most visible change for NBC in its first Olympics coverage since 1992 not run by veteran television executive Dick Ebersol. Ebersol, executive producer of eight winter and summer Olympic telecasts for NBC, quit as head of NBC Sports in May 2011. He will still be in London working for NBC as a consultant.

On television and online, NBC will offer 5,535 hours of Olympics coverage. The NBC broadcast network itself will have 272 hours, including the flagship prime-time telecast that will amount to a "greatest hits" of each day's competition.

Ebersol's successor as NBC Sports Group chairman, Mark Lazarus, ordered the live streaming during his first Olympics planning meeting after taking the new job.

"I said, `This is what I believe. Convince me that we should not be doing it,'" Lazarus recalled. "Nobody convinced me."

NBC offered streams of several events from the 2008 Beijing Games, but would not present any of the showcase competitions that it was taping for later broadcast in prime time. The concern was that fans who saw the events live online wouldn't bother watching NBC that night, depressing ratings for the broadcast that mattered most.

In Beijing, however, some marquee events such as swimming were held in the morning in China so they could be televised live in prime time in the United States. In London, the time difference won't allow for that option.

Lazarus believes that many people who watch an event online will be interested in seeing how NBC handles it later. Fans watching live streams are also expected to use social media, building anticipation for the broadcast.

Any people who don't want to watch on NBC what they've seen online will be more than offset by extra viewers drawn in by the excitement, Lazarus said.

Fans who want to see the streams on NBCOlympics.com will have to verify that they are paying cable or satellite subscribers. NBC says that's necessary to protect these businesses since they pay a premium to air the NBC cable stations because of the Olympics. While most live streams will be archived, reruns of high-profile events that are going to be shown on the network will not be available until after the West Coast broadcast.

There will be times that NBC's Olympics website is showing as many as 40 separate competitions at the same time, said Gary Zenkel, president of NBC Olympics.

The decision could neutralize what has always been a major criticism of NBC — that showing some events only on a tape-delay basis makes them feel stale, particularly in an era of instant communication. It might keep viewers from fleeing NBC, since some frustrated fans had sought out live telecasts from other television or Internet sources, said Andrew Billings, a sports media professor at the University of Alabama and author of "Olympic Media: Inside the Biggest Show on Television."

"They realize it has to go in this direction," Billings said. "Some people say they are four to eight years late in this game."

The time difference — it will be 1 a.m. in London when NBC's prime-time broadcast begins on the East Coast, 4 a.m. for the West Coast show — means no events will be offered live on the telecast most people watch.

Ebersol might no longer be in the control room, but NBC will keep his template. Under his direction, the prime-time broadcast began concentrating on four major competitions: swimming, diving, gymnastics and track and field. Later, beach volleyball was added. Those sports accounted for 93 percent of the prime-time coverage in Beijing, Billings said.

The idea is they are the best for the bite-sized competition and personal stories that attract female viewers. If the audience is dominated by male sports fans, as opposed to families, then it's a losing proposition for NBC.

"We'll try to have a little more variety," said Jim Bell, executive producer of the Olympics telecasts, "but for the most part there are some tried and true sports that we know people love to watch."

Bell's experience producing four hours of live television each day at the "Today" show was key to his selection replacing Ebersol in the control room, Lazarus said. Bell also has an Olympics pedigree: His first NBC job out of college was pushing the wheelchair of a temporarily disabled NBC executive around Barcelona for meetings two years before the 1992 Olympics there.

"Today" might be one of the best jobs to teach a TV executive the need to meticulously plan for a broadcast, yet also understand when the situation calls for throwing those plans out the window.

NBC Olympics executives, most of whom owe Ebersol for their jobs, see no reason to change what has been a successful formula. As a consultant, Ebersol is offering frequent advice to Lazarus, Zenkel and Bell and will be in London.

"They found a formula and I'd be stunned if they moved away from it too much," Billings said.

There will be several changes on NBC's cable menu. For the network itself, Ryan Seacrest and John McEnroe are being added to the mix to contribute feature stories.

Since its acquisition by Comcast Corp., NBC Universal has renamed the Versus cable channel the NBC Sports Network, and it will take much of the Olympics programming that in recent games has been seen on USA. A successful entertainment network, USA will stick with entertainment.

The NBC Sports Network will average 14 hours a day of coverage, focusing on team sports like the U.S. men's basketball team's pursuit of gold.

CNBC, as it has in the past, will air boxing when the financial markets are closed. Bravo will telecast tennis. MSNBC is turning its daytime hours over to the Olympics, airing 20 sports from badminton to wrestling. The Spanish-language Telemundo, heavy on soccer and boxing in past games, will offer more hours of Olympics coverage and show a greater variety of sports.

Despite the hours and attention, Lazarus anticipates the games will not be profitable for NBC. The Olympics under Ebersol made money until 2010, when the Vancouver Winter Games lost an estimated $223 million.

The network paid $1.18 billion for the rights to telecast the London Olympics, but Lazarus said that isn't driving the main cost concerns.

"The cost of doing business in London was more than anybody anticipated," he said. "We will have 2,700 people there. That comes with a price."

The value of the games cannot be measured simply by looking at the costs and profits of the competition, he said. It's expected the Olympics will provide a boost for the "Today" show, "NBC Nightly News" and Jimmy Fallon's late-night broadcast, as well as publicize the network's fall offerings, he said.

With NBC's prime-time lineup on a long, slow slide toward irrelevancy, there's value to the brand in being the center of television for a couple of weeks.

"We will look at it certainly as a success," Lazarus said, "assuming we don't fall off a cliff."

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Philadelphia 3:30 PM
Washington
San Diego 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
Phoenix 12:00 PM
New York
Portland 6:00 PM
New Orleans
Utah 6:00 PM
Charlotte
Atlanta 7:00 PM
Houston
San Antonio 7:30 PM
Dallas
Indiana 8:00 PM
Denver
Milwaukee 9:30 PM
LA Clippers
Arizona 3:00 PM
Los Angeles
Colorado 6:00 PM
Buffalo
Philadelphia 6:00 PM
Toronto
Ottawa 6:00 PM
Montreal
Washington 6:00 PM
New Jersey
Tampa Bay 6:00 PM
NY Islanders
Florida 6:00 PM
Pittsburgh
NY Rangers 6:00 PM
Carolina
Chicago 6:00 PM
Columbus
Nashville 7:00 PM
Minnesota
Calgary 9:00 PM
Vancouver
St. Louis 9:30 PM
San Jose
VA Commonwealth 34 2nd Half
Cincinnati 21
Charlotte 24 1st Half 3:55
Georgetown 36
SMU 30 1st Half 1:00
Michigan 27
Louisville 28 1st Half 2:05
Western Ky 20
Mount St Marys 12:00 PM
American Univ
Abilene Christian 12:00 PM
Boise State
UMass Lowell 12:00 PM
Duquesne
South Alabama 12:00 PM
IUPUI
Ohio State 12:00 PM
North Carolina
Massachusetts 12:00 PM
Providence
Syracuse 12:00 PM
Villanova
Citadel 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Belmont 12:30 PM
Fairfield
St Bonaventure 1:00 PM
Binghamton
Montreat 1:00 PM
Campbell
Delaware 1:00 PM
Fair-Dickinson
South Florida 1:00 PM
Florida State
Vanderbilt 1:00 PM
Georgia Tech
SC State 1:00 PM
Houston
Missouri 1:00 PM
Illinois
Truett-McConnell 1:00 PM
Jacksonville
Toledo 1:00 PM
McNeese State
Elon 1:00 PM
UNC Greensboro
Drexel 1:00 PM
Penn State
St Francis-PA 1:00 PM
Rutgers
Albany 1:00 PM
Yale
PSU-Beaver 1:00 PM
Longwood
Eastern Ill 1:05 PM
Indiana State
Indiana 1:30 PM
Butler
Marshall 2:00 PM
Arkansas State
Lafayette 2:00 PM
Kansas
Oral Roberts 2:00 PM
Memphis
Western Mich 2:00 PM
Northwestern
Delaware State 2:00 PM
Oregon
Fla Atlantic 2:00 PM
St Francis-NY
Arkansas Tech 2:00 PM
Stephen F Austin
Howard Payne 2:00 PM
Texas-Arlington
UMBC 2:00 PM
Kennesaw St
St Josephs (IN) 2:05 PM
Chicago State
Eastern Mich 2:05 PM
Missouri State
UCLA 2:30 PM
Kentucky
UC Davis 3:00 PM
Air Force
Houston Baptist 3:00 PM
UC Riverside
Davidson 3:00 PM
Coll of Charleston
USC Upstate 3:00 PM
Miss State
NC Central 3:00 PM
Miss Valley St
Illinois State 3:00 PM
Murray State
Louisiana 3:00 PM
Northwestern St
Oakland 3:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Detroit 3:00 PM
Rhode Island
Presbyterian 3:00 PM
UT Martin
Monmouth 3:00 PM
Wagner
Southern U 3:00 PM
Wyoming
Iowa State 4:00 PM
Drake
Wake Forest 4:00 PM
Florida
High Point 4:00 PM
James Madison
Texas Southern 4:00 PM
Michigan State
New Hampshire 4:00 PM
Sacred Heart
Northeastern 4:00 PM
Santa Clara
Huston-Tillotson 4:00 PM
Texas State
Purdue 4:15 PM
Notre Dame
Prairie View 4:30 PM
Sam Houston St
Xavier 5:00 PM
Auburn
Bluffton 6:00 PM
Akron
NJIT 6:00 PM
Central Conn St
Hofstra 6:00 PM
Columbia
Boston Univ 6:00 PM
Dayton
Iona 6:00 PM
George Mason
Valparaiso 6:00 PM
IUPU-Ft Wayne
Texas A&M 6:00 PM
Kansas State
Morgan State 6:00 PM
Manhattan
Saint Josephs 6:00 PM
Marist
East Carolina 6:00 PM
UNC-Wilmington
Richmond 6:00 PM
Pepperdine
La Salle 6:00 PM
Towson
Incarnate Word 6:05 PM
UMKC
CS-Bakersfield 6:30 PM
Idaho State
Iowa 6:30 PM
Northern Iowa
Milwaukee 6:30 PM
SIU Edwardsville
Long Beach State 7:00 PM
Texas
TX-San Antonio 7:00 PM
TCU
SE Missouri St 7:30 PM
Arkansas
Lehigh 8:00 PM
Arizona State
New Mexico 8:00 PM
New Mexico St
Oklahoma 8:00 PM
Washington
Utah Valley U 8:00 PM
Weber State
Jacksonville St 8:00 PM
Northern Colorado
St Edwards 8:00 PM
Grand Canyon
NC State 8:30 PM
West Virginia
TX A&M-CC 9:00 PM
CS-Northridge
Cal Poly 9:00 PM
Gonzaga
Fresno State 9:00 PM
Pacific
Montana State 9:00 PM
Portland
Ball State 9:00 PM
San Diego St
South Dakota St 9:05 PM
Utah State
Stanford 10:00 PM
BYU
Utah 10:30 PM
UNLV
Nevada 3 3rd Qtr 13:12
Louisiana 10
Utah State 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Livingstone 22 1st Half 6:05
UNC Greensboro 32
Loyola-Chicago 30 1st Half 3:20
Dartmouth 21
Georgia Tech 25 1st Half 2:09
St Francis-NY 25
Auburn 22 2nd Half
St Johns 32
East Tenn St 20 1st Half 3:07
Jacksonville St 16
Western Mich 28 1st Half 3:30
Detroit 23
Cal-Irvine 20 1st Half 3:33
Wright State 32
Gardner-Webb 23 1st Half 1:44
Kennesaw St 19
(7) Stanford 12:00 PM
(11) Tennessee
Alabama A&M 12:00 PM
Ole Miss
Central Michigan 12:00 PM
(1) South Carolina
Nebraska Omaha 12:00 PM
Creighton
FIU 12:00 PM
Western Carolina
Houston 12:00 PM
Nicholls
St Thomas Aquinas 12:00 PM
Army
St Bonaventure 12:00 PM
Niagara
Texas State 12:00 PM
Stetson
George Mason 12:05 PM
ULM
Grambling 1:00 PM
Kansas State
Missouri 1:00 PM
Wake Forest
Robert Morris 1:00 PM
Cornell
Air Force 1:00 PM
Abilene Christian
Hampton 1:00 PM
James Madison
American Univ 1:00 PM
MD-Eastern Shore
Texas Southern 1:00 PM
TX A&M-CC
Tenn Tech 1:00 PM
NC A&T
Presbyterian 1:00 PM
NC Central
Penn 1:00 PM
Drexel
Lipscomb 1:00 PM
Xavier
Vermont 1:00 PM
Green Bay
Charleston Southern 1:00 PM
UNC-Wilmington
Ohio Christian 1:00 PM
Akron
Jacksonville 1:00 PM
Murray State
(17) Rutgers 1:00 PM
Iona
Indiana 1:00 PM
Oakland
Indiana State 1:30 PM
SMU
Denver 1:30 PM
Purdue
TX-San Antonio 2:00 PM
Texas Tech
UCF 2:00 PM
Middle Tennessee
Campbell 2:00 PM
Bethune-Cookman
Florida A&M 2:00 PM
SE Louisiana
Northwestern St 2:00 PM
Jackson State
Lehigh 2:00 PM
Arizona State
Valparaiso 2:00 PM
SIU-Edwardsville
Toledo 2:00 PM
Southern Ill
Liberty 2:30 PM
Minnesota
Wofford 2:30 PM
North Florida
Montana State 3:00 PM
Washington St
Marshall 3:00 PM
(22) West Virginia
Morgan State 3:00 PM
Chattanooga
Northeastern 3:00 PM
Harvard
Furman 3:00 PM
(15) Georgia
(18) Michigan State 3:00 PM
(9) Baylor
Ohio U 3:00 PM
Massachusetts
Prairie View 3:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
High Point 3:00 PM
(12) Nebraska
Winthrop 3:05 PM
Wichita State
William Jewell 3:30 PM
UMKC
Louisiana Tech 4:00 PM
Utah
Southern Utah 4:00 PM
Gonzaga
Hawaii 4:00 PM
Loyola Marymount
San Jose St 4:00 PM
San Francisco
CS-Northridge 4:00 PM
San Diego State
Norfolk State 4:00 PM
East Carolina
Saint Peters 4:00 PM
Loyola-Maryland
Arizona 4:30 PM
Stephen F Austin
Northwestern 4:30 PM
Eastern Illinois
Oral Roberts 5:00 PM
Wisconsin
Florida Atlantic 5:00 PM
New Mexico St
La Salle 5:00 PM
Georgia State
(16) Oregon State 5:30 PM
Nevada
Sacred Heart 6:00 PM
Villanova
Delaware 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 6:00 PM
Tennessee St
Saint Louis 6:30 PM
Utah Valley U
Washington 7:00 PM
UC-Riverside
Pacific 7:00 PM
Long Beach St
Old Dominion 7:00 PM
Miami-Ohio
Austin Peay 9:00 PM
Montana
Lewis-Clark State 9:00 PM
Idaho
(21) Miss State 9:30 PM
Illinois-Chicago

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Will Christian Ponder ever be a full-time starter in the NFL?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close