Oxygen on for Olympics


NEW YORK -- NBC Universal's most recent acquisition isn't wasting time getting into the swing of things with the company's Olympics coverage.

Oxygen will carry a nightly program highlighting gymnastics during the 2008 Beijing Games as well as yet undetermined amounts of equestrian, tennis, rhythmic gymnastics and synchronized swimming. The female-focused Oxygen will carry Olympic programming from 6-8 p.m. EST, before the NBC network's primetime coverage begins.

Bringing Oxygen into the strategy was the brainchild of NBC Uni Sports & Olympics chairman Dick Ebersol, who brought up the idea to Oxygen and Bravo Media president Lauren Zalaznick.

"I don't think anyone (at NBC Uni) has ever heard me say 'yes' fast enough," Zalaznick said.

It's the first time that NBC Uni has revealed specific programming plans for its coverage, which will encompass more than 3,600 hours on TV and broadband. The idea for Oxygen is a little like what NBC Uni's USA Network did for figure-skating show "Olympic Ice" during the 2006 Winter Games in Turin.

"It's fantastic to have this prime access slot," Zalaznick said. "It's going to be an insider's look at the sum total of the gymnastics competition, setting up the drama of the competition that night or the next night."