SBD/July 27, 2012/Olympics

NBC OK With Costas Following Through On Plans To Mention Denied Moment Of Silence

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NBC says they are comfortable with Costas mentioning moment of silence debate
NBC's Bob Costas has indicated he plans on mentioning during the net's coverage of the London Games Opening Ceremony the IOC denied Israel's request for a moment of silence to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the tragedy at the '72 Munich Games, and NBC London Olympics Exec Producer Jim Bell said Thursday that he "feels comfortable with whatever his anchor might say," according to Jordan Zakarin of the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. Bell said, "If there is anybody who knows how to handle himself in that situation, and have the right approach and tone, it's Bob and Matt (Lauer)." Bell did say that he had not talked to Costas before Costas "announced his intention to voice his displeasure with the IOC's decision." Bell "demured from calling Costas' intended moment of silence an official NBC plan." However, he said, "I know we're going to handle it appropriately and respectfully, and Bob as he always has, has a big role in our planning of the coverage, and it's been a healthy, collaborative process. ... It will be a measured and balanced approach with the proper tone for that moment." Bell did admit he "doesn't want the protest to overshadow what should be a mammoth event" (HOLLYWOODREPORTER.com, 7/26). Bell stressed that even though NBC "has a multi-billion dollar relationship with the IOC, it won’t shy away from criticizing the organization." He said, "We have a good relationship with the IOC. But we will cover the Olympics as we want to cover them" (SHERMANREPORT.com, 7/26). Meanwhile, Bell said Thursday that actors Emily Blunt and Ewan McGregor will "narrate 'a five-minute teaser' that will open the coverage of the opening ceremony." Bell said, "It's pretty breathtaking ... it will give you a sense of the flavor of our coverage and the feeling we are all having going into these games" (CABLEFAX DAILY, 7/27).

KUDOS TO COSTAS
: In N.Y., Bob Raissman writes Costas "has a powerful electronic pulpit to preach from." The whole world, or "at least a huge American audience, is waiting to hear what he has to say." The fact that Costas is "taking to one of the biggest stages in sports to speak up for something he believes in should not be taken lightly" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/27). In Philadelphia, Stu Bykofsky writes Costas "deserves praise, as does NBC, because some people, lacking the decency gene, might complain that Costas will 'politicize' the Olympics." Bykofsky: "Actually, he will redeem them" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 7/27). 

ALL OLYMPICS, ALL THE TIME: In Boston, Chad Finn notes NBC Sports Group Chair Mark Lazarus is "faced with the enormous challenge of drawing high ratings and critical raves from the 5,535 hours of coverage the network will provide." Four years ago in Beijing, which "had a more amenable 12-hour difference, 215 million Americans tuned in." Matching that number is "unlikely in London, something Lazarus acknowledges." He said, "We are not measuring ourselves against Beijing." But Finn notes there is "no doubt Lazarus’s first Olympics as the man in charge at NBC will be measured against the Games that came before on the network" (BOSTON GLOBE, 7/27). In Miami, Barry Jackson writes "no undertaking in television history rivals NBC Universal’s Olympic coverage that starts Friday across 10 platforms, including six TV networks." The numbers "are staggering," and the tonnage "dwarfs NBC Universal’s coverage of the 2008 Beijing Olympics by nearly 2,000 hours" (MIAMI HERALD, 7/27). USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand writes, "Like a savvy butcher, the network finally learned to use all parts of the pig" (USA TODAY, 7/27).

A CHANCE FOR NBC: The N.Y. DAILY NEWS' Raissman writes when it "comes to watching the Olympics on TV, 'spirit,' is limited to one country -- the USA." If NBC "confines its focus to American athletes the better the chance the ratings will go through the roof," especially for the primetime broadcast. That is where the "big-ticket advertisers roam," and if NBC "wants them back -- and paying major dough -- for the next Olympics it's best to deliver bigtime ratings." That even means possibly "going overboard with the USA-USA shtick." Raissman asks, "Wouldn't a telecast reflecting the true Olympic spirit put as much emphasis on competitors from other countries as NBC will put on American Olympians?" Lazarus said, "The best stories are going to rise to the top, but we will have a decidedly American flair with the athletes and stars people know" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/27). Meanwhile, in California, John Maffei writes there is "no doubt NBC will do a superb job sending the Games back to the U.S. on its five networks." But NBC also will "bombard American viewers with promos for its fall prime-time lineup -- a lineup that has taken a beating the last couple of years." Maffei: "Be ready for tireless promotions for new shows and old favorits like 'Today.' ... Clearly NBC's Olympic coverage will be about sports. But the subliminal message is about promotion" (NORTH COUNTY TIMES, 7/27).

GET CONNECTED: MULTICHANNEL NEWS' Todd Spangler noted Comcast in order to promote mobile access to Games coverage will "provide free access to several thousand of MSO-operated Wi-Fi hotspots along the East Coast" during the Olympis. Both Comcast's Xfinity Internet customers and non-customers "will be able to log in to the hotspots, which are dotted along across and outdoor public locations throughout the greater Philadelphia area and its suburbs in addition to areas of New Jersey and Delaware." Comcast has "reciprocal Wi-Fi agreements with operators including Time Warner Cable and Cablevision Systems, which allow broadband subscribers of the respective MSOs to log in to each other's Wi-Fi networks." Non-Comcast hotspots "are not part of the free Wi-Fi promotion for the Olympics" (MULTICHANNELNEWS.com, 7/25).
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