NBC cuts widest swath online for Games

Distribution partners include AOL, AP, MSN

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NEW YORK -- NBC's blanket coverage of the Beijing Olympics will be the widest online distribution for a sporting event in history, the network said Thursday.

NBC said it would have a blue-chip set of distribution partners that include MSN, the Associated Press, AOL and NBC's local stations' Web sites. There are more than 4,000 official partners as well as tens of thousands of widgets that link back to NBCOlympics.com.

NBC Uni has gone from 0 to 60 online in only two years, from a single streamed hockey game at the 2006 Winter Olympics to 2,200 hours available live and more on-demand. It has the potential for being the most popular event played out online in history, though a lot of the live online streaming will be in the early morning. NBC also will not offer live streams of the key events in primetime.

But that being said, NBC Uni's coverage will be unprecedented online and on mobile handsets.

NBC's online traffic certainly shows that the strategy is working and that interest is growing. Wednesday, two days before the Games begin, saw nearly 13 million page views on NBCOlympics.com. That's compared with 2.9 million page views two days before the Athens Games in 2004 and 2.7 million two days before the 2006 Winter Olympics.

MSN will have a special section above the fold for its Olympics coverage, which will also be available on Microsoft Media Center, XBox Live and the Zune portable player. AP's part will provide coverage for 2,000 media outlets across the country. It also includes the United States Olympic Committee and governing body Web sites plus NBC digital, AOL and even sites from the athletes. NBC said 40,000 widgets have been installed on sites that are linked to streaming coverage.