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NBC will break from its usual Olympics playbook when the 2021 summer games begin by airing the opening ceremony from Tokyo live, filling up the morning hours in the United States.
That’s a big change for the network: NBC typically airs a delayed primetime broadcast of the opening ceremony when the Olympics take place outside North America. This year, the network will air the full ceremony live starting at 6:55 a.m. ET/3:55 a.m. PT on July 23.A primetime replay, with special coverage of the U.S. team, will air at 7:30 p.m. ET/4:30 p.m. PT.
“Following the unprecedented challenges presented by the global pandemic, the world will come together in Tokyo for what could be the most meaningful and anticipated Opening Ceremony ever,” said NBC Sports Group chairman Pete Bevacqua. “Given the magnitude of this event, we want to provide viewers with as many ways to connect to it as possible, live or in primetime.”
NBC will give nearly the whole day over to Olympics programming on July 23, with a special edition of Today airing after the opening ceremony and a three-hour daytime Olympic show beginning at 1 p.m. ET. After the primetime replay of the opening ceremony and a half-hour break for local news, a third showing of the opening is set to run overnight.
“We are delighted to offer live coverage of the opening ceremony for those who want immediacy, and, later in the day, build on NBC Olympics’ terrific primetime legacy with a full celebration of these much anticipated Tokyo Olympics, complete with expert analysis and enhanced coverage of Team USA,” said Molly Solomon, executive producer and president of NBC Olympics production.
The novel coronavirus pandemic delayed the 2020 Olympics by a year. With cases in Japan surging recently, there’s still a chance the games will be scrapped again, but Brian Roberts, chairman of NBC’s parent company, Comcast, said he’s “super hopeful and optimistic” the Olympics — in which NBC has billions of dollars invested in TV rights — will go off as scheduled.
NBC Sports is planning more than 7,000 hours of coverage across all of its platforms, details of which will be shared closer to the event.
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