NBCUniversal Unveils Olympics Coverage Plans

The official logo for the Rio 2016 Olympics -Getty-H 2016
Buda Mendes/Getty Images

4,000 people will work on the Olympic Games for NBCU.

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts promised "the most sophisticated" Olympics broadcast in history — "a technological marvel" that will include NBCUniversal streaming every event and every medal ceremony live over the 17 days of the Rio games.

The last time the Summer Olympics were in such an advantageous time zone for U.S. viewers was in Atlanta in 1996, when NBC aired 172 live hours of coverage. This year, it will run 6,203 hours on 11 networks and online, Roberts said Monday at the 2016 Internet Television Expo in Boston.

The amount of content is the equivalent of watching every regular-season NFL game since 2008, he said.

Roberts said 4,000 people will work on the Olympic Games for NBCU, which is owned by Comcast. "It's kind of breathtaking when you think of all that production," he said. "We'll have more live coverage on Day One in Rio than the entire Atlanta Olympics. If you had 24 hours a day to watch with seven days a week, it would take you 250 days to watch all this content."

Those 35 percent of Comcast customers with the souped-up X1 Infinity service will see mini-guides to help them navigate the various simultaneous events, easily access athlete biographies and earlier video of them in action, and much more. "A real glimpse into the future of television," Roberts said while showing the audience an example of X1's Olympic product.

"And since this is the most multicultural viewing experience ever, the entire guide will also be made available in Spanish," he said.

Roberts also took a few moments to criticize the FCC's idea to force more competition into the set-top box industry by trying to make it easier for customers to choose a different option than simply leasing a box from their cable providers.

"We don't feel the government needs to get into the box business. That's not going to speed us up," he said. Listing off Apple TV, Hulu, a few recent mergers and acquisitions, Roberts said: "It's an exciting space, and there certainly is not a lack of change happening, so why you'd want to regulate, befuddles me."

Asked to name a specific product or investment Comcast is holding back on due to the threat of rule changes at the FCC, Robertson was vague.

"Please don't kid yourself," he said. "If you have $60 billion or $50 billion in debt, regulations affect your ability to invest. It doesn't mean they're all bad, it doesn't mean some aren't stable, but uncertainty doesn't equal investment."