When Dick Ebersol said “I have an idea” after the Athens Games, what his NBC Olympic team actually heard was, “How are we going to make this happen?” Because you do not tell a visionary in Olympic TV “no.”
His idea was, in this age of digital platforms, to find a way to use the Internet in conjunction with TV to broadcast more Olympic programming from Beijing than in any previous Games. And David Neal was the man charged with making this happen.
“The stat that I always come back to is 3,600 hours; that is more than the total from all the other Olympics,” the executive producer of NBC’s coverage said. “That is the number I see when I go to bed and when I wake up.”
What this means for Olympic fans, both rabid and casual, is they can see almost anything they want in real time, including badminton, India-Pakistan field hockey and, yes, the money sports as well.
“The idea is to appeal to the greatest possible audience,” Neal said. “There is something for everyone, those who want immediate results and those who want a more traditional primetime broadcast.”
See which one you are and what NBC has planned for you:
Mr. I Want To Know Who Is Medaling When They Are Medaling And Not A Second Later
Defining characteristics: Refreshes his favorite sports dotcoms every 15 minutes, at least. Checks scores on his iPhone while at the theater and during his kids’ school productions. Is especially interested in Dream Team results.
Olympic motto: Citius, citius, citius
If this is you, NBC has ... coverage on NBC main, as well as USA Network, Oxygen, MSNBC, CNBC and Telemundo, with additional high-def coverage on USA HD and Universal HD cable channels. Online, nbcolympics.com will be the place to go for real-time scores, updates, interviews and that India-Pakistan field hockey match. This array of venues also helps when the 12- to 15-hour time difference means a really popular event is playing at 8 a.m. in New York.
Mr. and Mrs. I’ll Probably Have Heard Who Won But I Still Plan To Watch If I Can
Defining characteristics: Find themselves suddenly enthralled with table tennis every four years. Busy life prevents wall-to-wall watching. Describes themselves as casual “ring heads,” if asked.
Olympic motto: Every four years, I’m all in.
If this is you, NBC has ... a way to watch whatever happens to catch your fancy and a few tools for engaging your interest in events or athletes you might otherwise miss. Neal said swimming and gymnastics remain the go-to sports for NBC. The schedule in Beijing features big events in the morning in China, which is primetime here. But the abundance of networks, hours and additional Web site toys are going to allow everything, from badminton to archery, to have a home and give you a chance to become enthralled.
Mrs. I Press Mute And Cover My Eyes When Matt and Meredith Talk, Waiting To See For Myself Later
Defining characteristics: Loves gymnastics. Loves any and all touchy-feely tearjerker human-interest stories about athletes. Tears up just a little during medal ceremonies. Olympics replaces “Grey’s Anatomy” as must-see TV.
Olympic motto: I love these Games.
If this is you, NBC has ... coverage very night, in primetime. NBC plans to play the hits and, unlike in previous overseas Olympics, there is less need for plausibly live. On big events with big U.S. appeal — think gymnastics, swimming, basketball and track — look for already big coverage to go bigger, with immediate post-race interviews and one-on-one interviews shot at Olympic trials and, yes, the human-interest stories from names such as Andrea Kramer. “The one thing you struggle to bring to the audience is how unbelievably talented these athletes are,” she said.