In 20 years, a lot has changed in NBC's Summer Olympic coverage.
At the 1992 Barcelona Games, NBC aired 161 hours of coverage. At the 2012 London Games, NBC Universal will provide a record 5,535 hours of coverage, including streaming 3,500 hours on NBCOlympics.com. Every event and every sport will be shown live on the Internet, available free of charge to subscribers whose carriers have an affiliation with NBC. That represents about 90 percent of the nation, including Cox Communications.
“The decision was made because we think that as times have changed that there is a sense to satisfy all people, using technology,” said Mark Lazarus, chairman of NBC Sports Group.
As in past Olympics, many of the top events will be shown on tape in prime time on NBC. The network plans to distinguish to viewers which events are live and on tape. “We think that the streaming during the day will help drive people to prime time,” Lazarus said.
After paying $1.181 billion for the London rights, NBC Universal will lose money on the coverage, but company officials view the venture as a way to showcase their networks.
Cox customers who subscribe to its TV Essential tier or higher will be eligible to receive all of the Olympic content, including live, On DEMAND, online and on mobile and tablet devices via applications. Cox's HD channels are being grouped from 800 to 809, including HD specialty channels for basketball and soccer.
Here is a breakdown of the channels.
Cox: 4 (Standard definition), 801 (High definition). NBC will broadcast 272.5 hours of coverage over 17 days, the most extensive coverage ever provided by an Olympic broadcast network, and nearly 50 hours more than the 225 hours for Beijing in 2008. Coverage will begin on most weekdays at 9 a.m., following “Today,” which is originating from London. Al Michaels and Dan Patrick will host NBC's weekday and weekend daytime coverage, and Mary Carillo will once again host the NBC late night show. Bob Costas returns as the prime time host for NBC's coverage, his 10th Olympic broadcast assignment. Ryan Seacrest, retired tennis star John McEnroe, famed gymnastics coach Bela Karolyi and Carillo will serve as Olympic correspondents during prime time. On weekends, NBC's daytime coverage will begin as early as 4 a.m.
NBC Sports Network
Cox: 251 (SD), 803 (HD). NBC Sports Network will serve as the home to U.S. team sports, with 292.5 hours of total coverage, including 257.5 hours of original programming, an average of more than 14 hours per day. Network coverage will air up to 20 medal rounds and 22 Olympic sports, including Team USA basketball, women's soccer and field hockey. The network, distributed in nearly 80 million homes, will carry soccer qualifying on Thursday, one day before the Opening Ceremonies. On most days, coverage will air from 3 a.m. to 7 p.m., which covers the live Olympic day in London.
Cox: 41 (SD), 805 (HD). CNBC will serve as the home of Olympic boxing, including the debut of women's boxing. The channel will televise 73 hours of boxing coverage over 16 days, from elimination bouts to the men's and women's finals. Fred Roggin will reprise his Beijing role as Olympic boxing host.
Cox: 42 (SD), 804 (HD). MSNBC will carry 155.5 hours of a wide variety of long-form Olympic programming over 19 days. Coverage begins at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday when Great Britain faces New Zealand in women's soccer, the first official competition of the Games. On most weekdays, coverage will air from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. There will be longer programming windows on Saturdays and Sundays.
Cox: 62 (SD), 806 (HD). Bravo will act as the home of Olympic tennis, televising 56 hours of long-form tennis coverage. Live coverage will air from early morning until midafternoon on most days. Pat O'Brien, a veteran of five Olympic Games as a commentator, will serve as host.
NBCOlympics.com will live stream every event and sport for the first time. The website will live stream NBCU cable channels NBC Sports Network, MSNBC, CNBC and Bravo, which will only be available to authenticated cable, satellite or telco customers. Two apps — one focused on live streaming, one on short-form highlights, schedules, results, columns and more — will be available for mobile and tablet users. Most of the content will be available only to authenticated cable, satellite or telco customers.
Cox: 5 (SD), 802 (HD). NBCUniversal announced the most extensive Spanish-language Olympic coverage in the company's history, offering more than 173 hours. The coverage will feature marquee disciplines such as boxing, swimming, basketball and soccer, which will be a major broadcast highlight. Telemundo will offer live streaming of broadcast coverage together with exclusive digital-only content of Olympic events, news, announcements and information via www.nbcolympics.com/telemundo, totaling more than 200 hours of digital content.
Cox: 807 (HD, soccer), 808 (HD, basketball). The specialty channels, which are available to other cable, satellite and telco providers, will total 770 hours of coverage.
Cox: 809. The first time that the Olympic Games will be distributed in the U.S. in 3-D will result in 242 hours of coverage.