All Olympics, All the Time
NBC divvies up blanket coverage among its outlets
By Allison Romano -- Broadcasting & Cable, 8/15/2004 8:00:00 PM
With the Athens Games under way, Olympic fever is in full swing on NBC and its sister outlets. From boxing to badminton, the Peacock has pledged to cover every Olympic sport, 1,210 total hours from Aug. 11 to Aug. 29. That's three times more action than 2000. (NBC will churn out nearly 24-hour-a-day coverage; only 300 hours are live.)
But NBC can't accommodate it all. The broadcaster will air marquee sports in prime time and on the weekends. Flanking NBC is its cable group—CNBC, MSNBC, Bravo and USA Network—as well as Spanish-language broadcaster Telemundo and NBC HD.
NBC has tried to give each cable network a focus. CNBC and MSNBC will alternate coverage of boxing and big sports like softball, soccer and weightlifting. USA Network is home to Team USA sports. Bravo has quirky, high-end sports, like fencing and equestrian.
To help viewers navigate the Olympics, NBC cut deals with TV Guide Channel, online listing service Zap2it.com and Dish Network to run programming guides. NBC's Olympics Web site, nbcolympics.com, lets viewers sort by sport, network or daypart.
The 2004 Games opened with soccer action two days before the Aug. 13 Opening Ceremony. An Aug. 11 match-up between the U.S. women's soccer team and Greece earned a 0.3 rating on MSNBC, up from a 0.2 rating for a men's match in 2000.
One Olympic event went down to the wire: ad sales.
By Aug. 12, inventory was about 98% sold and would be sold out by the Opening Ceremony, according to the network. Advertisers are plunking down $700,000 per 30-second spot. That will help NBC reach its $1 billion sales target for Athens. The Games are expected to earn NBC a $50 million profit, in line with the Sydney 2000 returns.
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