Ahead of the opening ceremonies, a street art painting depicting Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt could be found in London.
The Beijing Games drew 215 million total viewers on NBC’s networks in 2008, including an average of 27.7 million viewers over 17 primetime broadcasts. Though the Winter Olympics historically draws a smaller audience than the Summer Games, NBC’s networks still pulled in more than 190 million people for the 2010 Vancouver Games.
The London Games, however, represent a seismic shift for the host broadcaster. NBCUniversal will make every event available live and online for cable and satellite subscribers, and with all events available live (which sports fans demand), the question becomes whether a large audience will remain loyal to NBC’s primetime broadcast. The network — and its advertisers — are betting the answer is yes.
“That’s still when people and families gather around the television and they are willing to stay up late to do it,” said NBC Sports Chairman Mark Lazarus. “This has been a successful formula and you should not change what is successful for the sake of change. We will amplify it by using the new technology, but we will not change something that has been successful.”
As far as the coverage, there has never been more tonnage for an Olympics, highlighted on Friday with the Opening Ceremonies at 7:30 p.m. The ceremonies actually begin at 4 p.m. ET (9 p.m. London time), but U.S. viewers won’t be able to see them until NBC’s primetime programming begins.
All told, NBCUniversal will air 5,535 hours of Olympic programming across multiple platforms (NBC, NBC Sports Network, MSNBC, CNBC, Bravo, Telemundo, NBCOlympics.com, a pair of dedicated channels covering basketball and soccer competitions on some cable systems, and the first-ever 3D platform). It is an unprecedented level that surpasses the coverage of the 2008 Beijing Olympics by nearly 2,000 hours. Since you’re going to need some help navigating through the coverage, we offer this Q&A primer below:
Which sports will be on which platforms?