Cable Operators

NBC U’s Olympic Game Plan

2/03/2006 7:06 PM Eastern

When NBC Universal kicks off 416 hours of multiple-network Winter Olympics coverage from Torino, Italy, this week, the on-demand, interactive TV and broadband platforms won’t be left behind.

In addition to live and taped programming on broadcast and cable outlets NBC, USA Network, MSNBC, CNBC, NBC HD and Universal HD, NBC U is producing a great deal of fare for those alternate platforms.

NBC Olympic Coverage
VOD: A daily 10-minute video highlight show plus 10 one-hour programs on figure skating.
ITV: Medal counts, expanded TV listings, Team USA highlights, athlete biographies.
Broadband: Video highlights of top five finishers from individual events, plus highlights from team events.
Source: NBC Universal

10-MINUTE DAILY FEEDS

During the Games, NBC U will provide a daily, 10-minute video highlight of the previous day’s events for its cable affiliates’ on-demand platforms.

There will also be 10 one-hour on-demand programs about figure skating the day after NBC’s primetime coverage of the event.

Prior to the Games, NBC U produced 21 five-minute vignettes on Olympic athletes for on-demand distribution.

The interactive-TV programming — available to DirecTV Inc., Dish Network and Time Warner Cable customers — will allow viewers to track medal counts, access deeper TV listings, follow Team USA and see biographical information on Olympic athletes.

On the Web, NBC U will offer video of the top five finishers from individual events, plus highlights from team competitions after those events appear on NBC U’s broadcast and cable outlets.

The on-demand offering is built around the big ratings magnet: figure skating. “Figure skating is perhaps the most popular Olympic sport,” said Gary Zenkel, president of Olympics.

NBC will take large portions of the 10 nights of figure-skating coverage and package them into a one-hour highlight reel and place it on VOD servers the next day. “We believe there is an enormous appetite for figure skating coverage,” Zenkel said.

ON-DEMAND CHECKLIST

DirecTV, Dish, Time Warner, Comcast Corp. and Charter Communications Inc. have signed up for the in-Games on-demand package, and discussions continue with other cable distributors, Zenkel said.

At the moment, Comcast, Time Warner, Charter, Insight Communications Co., DirecTV, Dish and several smaller cable outlets have taken the free on-demand, pre-Olympics material.

“There will be slight variations across” the DirecTV, Dish and Time Warner offerings, Zenkel said.

DirecTV and Dish subscribers will access the ITV content through multiscreen mosaic portals, which will let them see events across all six NBC U channels at once.

Zenkel said there will be plenty of video on nbcolympics.com, but only after the events appear on the TV networks.

The six-hour time delay between Torino and the East Coast means events shown during primetime hours will have been completed before they air on U.S. television.

“It’s a platform where viewers can relive the great moments they might have missed,” Zenkel said, of the 213 online Olympic “zones” NBC U has created.

NBC also will supply ESPN.com with a two-minute highlights package each day.

OLYMPIC NAVIGATION

Another key feature will be the interactive program guide, he said. “We’ve worked closely with TV Guide Channel as well as many MSOs to create and offer an Olympic TV navigation platform,” Zenkel said.

There will be a digital interactive guide available in about 40 million homes with detailed TV listings, while an analog version of TV Guide Interactive will be on another 80 million TV sets.

The guides will help viewers stay abreast of the program schedule and possible scheduling changes, Zenkel said. Similar TV listings will be available online, updated as events change, he said.

Zenkel promises that some part of every competition will see TV time, as part of the network’s 416 hours of coverage. There will be 24.5 hours each day of HDTV coverage across the channels. In addition to the main NBC HD feed, Universal HD will carry live HD simulcasts of coverage from USA, MSNBC and CNBC, including Olympic ice hockey.

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