NBC Looking Forward To (Mostly) Live Olympics In Rio

DISCLAIMER: I’ve worked as a production assistant and an intern for NBC Olympics. But all thoughts here are my own and do not reflect that of NBC Universal. The executives would be happy to know though that all my thoughts are pretty positive. 

It’s true, one of the top complaints from the American viewing audience is when NBC tape-delays coverage of the Olympics in prime time. And NBC knows that. For several Olympics now, it’s difficult for viewers to tune in without knowing what already happened, especially since the advent of Twitter.

Which is why when the 2016 Olympics were awarded to Rio back in 2007, there must’ve been a sigh of relief for both viewers and NBC that these Games will be friendly towards the United States time zones. Rio will only be one hour ahead of New York when the Olympics begin and on the One-Year-To-Go mark, the Associated Press wrote about the network’s plans for next summer.

Swimming and track and field will air almost entirely live in prime time. Beach volleyball, with some matches starting at 11 p.m. Eastern time, will be a late-night staple. But one of the Summer Games’ biggest sports will still get that polished presentation.

Gymnastics, which will take place in the late afternoon and early evening, will be shown on tape delay that night with a quick turnaround. Fans will be able to watch live on streaming video but not on TV

And as the network had done in the last two games, all events will be streamed live. I’ve always agreed with NBC in how they tell the story of the Olympics. You watch for the spectacle and how the event unfolds. And even though gymnastics won’t be shown live, the packaged highlights are almost always better anyway, especially for the casual fan. Gymnastics can be a long event with many breaks in the action. And you need the context that you can only get when the event is pre-produced. Sure, live gymnastics worked in 2008 (for the team and individual all-around finals), but that’s because you also had live swimming and beach volleyball worked in to kill time.

I’m looking forward to the network’s plans (as well as other international broadcasters’) for next year’s Olympics, live or not.


The AP’s Rachel Cohen also looked at why the Olympics are still a big draw for American audiences in a DVR-dominated society.

A year after Sochi’s Winter Olympics cost $51 billion, the Guardian reports on a below budget Rio Games, at least according to the city’s mayor.

London’s Olympic Park becomes a beach ahead of Rio. (International Business Times)

In Kazan, High Diving looks to reach greater heights as sport seeks inclusion in Olympic program (New York Times)

Two-Time Winter Olympic city has Summer Olympic fever a year out from Rio (WPTZ-TV Burlington, VT)

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