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NBC Promises More Live Olympic Coverage in 2008

Digital Journal — NBC has taken a lot of flak for tape-delaying its Olympic content, so the network is now trying to save face by promising 1,000 hours of live programming during the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.

The chairman of NBC Sports, Dick Ebersol, told Advertising Age NBC will stream the programming online, but it has not yet made a decision on whether the coverage will be supported by advertising or be subscription-based.

Ebersol was quoted as saying, “We’re not prepared to make the hard announcement, but we’ll be in a position to live-stream between 800 and 1,000 hours of coverage in addition to 800 hours on cable and 200 hours on the network.”

It’s about time. For too long NBC has languished in the analogue age by delaying coverage of its Olympic coverage, a big irritation for viewers. At the Turin Games, NBC preferred to run a hockey game, for example, several hours after the final whistle, even though ardent hockey fans watched live streaming coverage through other media.

If NBC can make good on its promise for the Beijing Olympics, then the $3.5 billion it paid for Olympic coverage rights until 2012 will be worth the investment. No point in airing sports that no one watches. NBC knows that hard fact more than anyone, so it’s heartening to see them make a move to online streaming in a Web 2.0 culture dominated by video anytime-anywhere sites.

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