NBC ready for Olympics

Gary Zenkel happy with network's plans

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NEW YORK -- Ten days out from the Beijing Olympics, and an NBC executive says things are A-OK.

"The infrastructure here is really sound. We feel very good about our build, our plans, our sales," NBC Olympics president Gary Zenkel said Tuesday night from Beijing. "We feel great about the indications we're getting about (viewer) awareness and intent to view. We feel good about these Games."

Later on Tuesday, NBC gave another reason to feel good about the Olympics: On the ad sales front, the company has sold 96% of its inventory. It reiterated that it likely would be a sales record with $1 billion in revenue.

What also will be a record is NBC Uni's level of coverage: 3,600 hours including 2,200 online and across NBC Uni networks as well as mobile, VOD and even downloads. It's a huge undertaking that has taken months to prepare, with such partners as Microsoft and MSN, Schematic and Limelight.

Zenkel said that Beijing organizers' cooperation and responsiveness have been good.

"They've made tremendous progress," he said. "There are issues that they continue to tackle, (but) there certainly isn't a volume of issues any different than any Olympics at 10 days out. They're knocking them off left and right, and we feel very confident that these Games will go off in very good shape with the organizers organized and everybody ready."

He said that NBC hasn't been impaired at all moving around the countryside.

"We've been able to access what we've wanted to access," Zenkel said.

Although Chinese officials have taken steps to cut down on pollution, Zenkel acknowledged that for most of the week that he's been in China, it's been difficult.

He said there were thunderstorms and rains overnight Monday, followed by a sunny Tuesday, which has helped clear the skies.

"Hopefully there will be more days like this and everybody will be fine," he said.

Also on Tuesday, ESPN announced its coverage plans for the Oympics. It's not an Olympics rights holder in the U.S. -- though it does have the rights in Brazil through ESPN Brasil and ESPN -- but it's offering Olympic-related coverage to U.S. viewers, including live "SportsCenter" coverage from reporters Jeremy Schaap and George Smith plus other material on "Bottom Line," "Outside the Lines" and elsewhere. ESPN also has pre-Olympic basketball games, all featuring Team USA.
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