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All Olympics, All the Time

NBC divvies up blanket coverage among its outlets 8/15/2004 08:00:00 PM Eastern

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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