Pop your popcorn, heat up your chips and queso, make sure you have plenty of ice and get ready for 17 days of sitting on your couch watching the most-watched television series in the world: the Olympics. The Games air on NBC, five cable networks, and special soccer and basketball channels (check with your cable or dish provider to see if it will carry those channels). Here’s a primer to get you ready for your Olympic television viewing. A reminder: London is five hours ahead of us.
Hours of coverage
All added up, 5,535 hours of the Games will be shown across several platforms, including NBC, NBC Sports Network, NBC News (formerly MSNBC), CNBC, Bravo, Telemundo, NBCOlympics.com, the specialty channels for soccer and basketball, and the first 3D platform.
Approximately 272 hours will be on NBC. NBC Sports Network will carry 293 hours. Both are records for network and cable television.
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On the web
NBCOlympics.com will live stream every event for the first time. That means more than 3,500 hours, including all 302 medal ceremonies. To see the streams, you must register on the site by verifying your cable, satellite or telephone account. The process can be sticky, so don’t wait until you’re ready to see an event to do it.
It’s tough to estimate, but 215 million watched at least a part of the 2008 Beijing Games. That’s about twice as many people as watch the Super Bowl.
The rights fees
NBC paid a whopping $1.181 billion for the TV rights. The network admits it doubts it will turn a profit for the Summer Games, but it believes owning the rights for all Olympics through 2020 ultimately will be profitable.
Depends on when and which network you watch. For the most part, the star of the coverage will be Bob Costas, who will host NBC’s prime-time coverage. This is Costas’ 10th Olympics with NBC and the ninth time he has served as prime-time host.
Al Michaels and Dan Patrick will handle the NBC daytime hosting duties, and Mary Carillo will take over NBC’s late-night coverage.
Coverage on the other networks will include Michele Beadle, who recently joined NBC from ESPN; Liam McHugh; Willie Geist; Kelly Tilghman; Rob Simmelkjaer; Fred Roggin; and Pat O’Brien.
Top event analysts
NBC will have more than 100 on-air personalities for the Games, but obviously, certain events are more watched than others. So who will see most often?
Let’s start with gymnastics. Al Trautwig will handle the play-by-play, with former American gymnast Tim Daggett and former Canadian gymnast Elfi Schlegel on analysis.
Tom Hammond, Dwight Stones, Ato Bolden and Lewis Johnson will work track and field. Dan Hicks and Winter Haven native Rowdy Gaines will handle swimming.
Bob Fitzgerald, 76ers coach (and 1972 U.S. Olympian) Doug Collins and 1976 Olympian and Hall of Famer Ann Meyers will handle the basketball duties, with Celtics coach Doc Rivers serving as lead analyst for NBC’s studio show.
Other notable analysts include Brandi Chastain on soccer, John McEnroe on tennis and Teddy Atlas on boxing.
NBC lined up a solid group of correspondents to tell various stories, including American Idol host Ryan Seacrest, gymnastics guru Bela Karolyi, late-night talk-show host Jimmy Fallon, Winter Olympic gold medalist and X-Games star Shaun White and reporter Jimmy Roberts.
Other NBC shows
NBC Nightly News and the Today show will be live from London. MSNBC also will have live programming from the Games.
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