NBCUniversal Networks Will Carry 5,535 Hours of London Olympic Coverage

london 2012 olympics logo

Bravo will be the home of tennis, CNBC will get boxing and a partnership with Panasonic will make 242 hours of summer games footage available in 3D.

The London Olympics – which kick off July 27 with an opening ceremony designed by director Danny Boyle – will get 5,535 hours of coverage across the NBCUniversal broadcast, cable and digital networks.

That’s almost 2,000 more than the 3,600 hours from the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing. NBC will up its coverage of the Games, broadcasting 272.5 hours in all. But the increase in hours is largely due to more daytime coverage across NBCUni’s cable and broadcast channels including MSNBC, CNBC, Bravo, Telemundo and the still nascent NBC Sports Network (which should get a needed ratings shot in the arm from the Games). 

But the amount of coverage also reflects a commitment to live stream -- via NBCOlympics.com -- every event via an authentication model. 

NBC Sports chairman Mark Lazarus – who succeeded Dick Ebersol, though Lazarus has brought Ebersol in as a consultant on the Games – has made live streaming the events from London a priority. Unlike Beijing, which allowed for some live primetime events, notably the Michael Phelps-featured swimming races, there will be no live primetime events from London, which is five hours ahead of the U.S. in Eastern time zones.

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In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter earlier this year, Lazarus conceded that there was some concern among NBCUni executives that so much streaming could cannibalize NBC’s primetime broadcast and rankle telco partners, which earns the majority of the Games’ ad revenue. But he said the London time difference made those conversations with his corporate bosses a little less fraught than they could have been.

“It’s London, it will be the middle of the night,” he said. “Everything [in primetime] will be packaged. There’s not a whole lot going on unless the pub crawl is a new swim stroke.”

NBC will protect some big events by not archiving them until after the West Coast primetime block so that viewers who missed the live stream will be inclined to catch up on linear TV. The network will introduce a streaming app, but the vast majority of content will only be available to authenticated cable, satellite or telco customers.

Daytime coverage will begin at 10 a.m. immediately following Today, which will broadcast live from London during the Games with Meredith Vieira reuniting with former morning show colleagues Matt Lauer and Ann Curry for the Games. Bob Costas will lead NBC’s primetime coverage. And Ryan Seacrest will also contribute to the network’s Olympic coverage. Weekend coverage will begin as early as 5 a.m.

Other highlights:

NBC Sports Network will have nearly 300 hours of total coverage from 2012 London Olympics, including 257.5 hours of original programming – an average of more than 14 hours per day.

MSNBC will carry 155.5 hours of programming over 19 days, including long-form Olympic programming such as athlete features.

CNBC will serve as the home of Olympic boxing including the debut of women’s boxing, with 73 hours of boxing coverage over 16 days from elimination bouts to the men’s and women’s finals.

Bravo will act as the home of Olympic tennis with 56 hours of long-form tennis coverage from July 28-August 3.

Telemundo will have more than 173 hours of Olympic coverage for Spanish-speaking audiences.

NBCOlympics.com will live stream every event and sport. In all, the site will live stream more than 3,500 total programming hours, including the awarding of all 302 medals.

Two apps – one focused on live streaming, one on short-form highlights, schedules and results – will be available for mobile and tablet users.

Specialty channels for basketball and soccer will be available to cable, satellite and telco providers, and will total 770 hours of coverage.

Panasonic is partnering with NBC Sports to make the London Games available in 3D to all U.S. distributors who carry Olympic coverage on cable, satellite and telco with 242 hours of coverage.