NBC Keeps Olympics All in the Family

Will air over 800 hours on five owned nets

You'll need a lot of stamina to watch all of NBC's planned coverage of the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. Being bilingual wouldn't hurt either.

NBC said last week it will present a record 806.5 hours of coverage of the Athens Games over the five networks it owns: NBC, MSNBC, CNBC, Bravo and Telemundo.

The gang of five will enable NBC to have unprecedented around-the-clock coverage of the Games. That is, at some point during the day, one of the five networks will be airing the Games.

For the first time, every summer Olympic sport will be covered.

The Telemundo coverage is another first for the Olympics: It will be the first time that a non-English-language network provides exclusive coverage of some part of the Games in the U.S.

The Spanish-language network and Bravo, NBC's two recent acquisitions, are carrying the Olympics for the first time. NBC stressed that non-owned affiliates of those networks would not face additional fees to carry the Games.

CNBC and MSNBC affiliates previously have negotiated deals whereby they pay extra for the Olympics feeds. Those agreements run through the 2008 Games, the last under NBC's current rights deal with the International Olympics Committee.

The 806.5 total hours of coverage from Athens nearly doubles the 441.5 total hours of coverage from Sydney in 2000 and more than quadruples the 171.5 broadcast hours from Atlanta in 1996.

"We are committed to showcasing the athletes of the U.S. and the world in a way that has never been seen before," said Dick Ebersol, chairman of NBC Sports and Olympics. "We will deliver the Olympics to the widest possible audience and give American TV viewers an unprecedented array of choices."

The new wrinkle in NBC-TV's presentation compared with that of recent Games will be live action from 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. ET, which roughly equates to Athens prime time. The broadcast network (with 225.5 hours of the total) will also air a taped package of events from 8 p.m. to midnight, with additional coverage from 12:35 a.m. to 2 a.m., and then replay the prime time package from 2 a.m. to 5 a.m.

MSNBC will air coverage from 2 a.m. to 4 p.m., while CNBC will air the games from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Bravo, with 188 hours, will cover events from 9 a.m. to noon and 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. before repeating MSNBC's coverage from midnight to 6 a.m. Telemundo will carry 134 hours from 1 to 8 p.m.