NBCUniversal's Sochi Games Coverage Will Rely Heavily On Digital Distribution
NBCUniversal will present more than 1,539 hours of coverage of the Sochi Games across NBC, NBCSN, CNBC, MSNBC, USA Network and NBCOlympics.com. It will be the most coverage ever for a Winter Olympics and more than the coverage of the previous two Winter Olympics combined. NBC's schedule will include a total of 185 hours over 18 days. NBCU's 539 hours of TV coverage is the most ever for a Winter Olympics, eclipsing Vancouver (436) in '10 (NBCU). VARIETY's Brian Steinberg noted NBCU for the first time "will not follow a previously-established tradition of airing the most popular events during primetime on the company’s flagship broadcast network, even if the contests took place hours beforehand." Instead, the Comcast-controlled company has "vowed to show competition across all 15 sports -- including each medal-winning performance in all 98 events -- via live stream on either NBCOlympics.com or its NBC Sports Live Extra app." NBCU intends to "reserve the vast majority of its digital coverage for people who subscribe to cable, satellite or telco distributors, who will have to provide a proof of their customer status in order to watch the events." The decision "is likely to be watched closely." Comcast in '11 agreed to pay $4.3B "to keep the Olympics at NBCU" through '20, and Comcast Chair & CEO Brian Roberts has "vowed to make the broadcasts profitable." Steinberg: "Will making winning moments and dynamic athletic performances available online and via mobile affect the viewership for primetime, or will the digital coverage and associated social-media chatter drive more people to tune in to the TV for the type of communal viewing that pleases advertisers?" (VARIETY.com, 12/19).