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Nick Friedell

NBC plans to air 3,600 hours of Olympic coverage, 2,900 live

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Yes you read that right ... Bob Costas and company are going to be very busy.

NBC, along with several of its cable properties (MSNBC, USA, Oxygen, CNBC, Bravo, Universal HD and separate basketball and soccer channels) and website NBCOlympics.com, will be serving up more action than you could dream of.

As Roger Catlin pointed out in today's Hartford Courant, the 3,600 hours of coverage will be more than all the other Summer Olympics combined.

To put it in perspective, it's the equivalent of having 150 full days of coverage. Or as Pat Imig pointed out on Wednesday it's 212 hours of coverage a day.

"We're blown away," Dick Ebersol, the Litchfield resident who is chairman of NBC Universal Sports & Olympics told reporters at the TV critics press tour last month in a satellite hookup from Beijing. "We're awed by the enormity of what's going to be done here."

The number which stuck out to me most though in Catlin's story was that NBC and its cable partners plan to air 2,900 of those hours live. In this day and age, I think this is a very wise move by the network. Most people aren't going to tune in anymore if they have to wait 12 hours to see the event on tape-delay.

I can still remember calling my mom from Athens and telling her about some of the events I had just seen. "DON'T TELL ME WHAT HAPPENED," she would scream into the telephone.

"I HAVEN'T SEEN IT YET!"

That won't be as much of a problem this time around though.

The thing is when you break down the numbers, as Catlin did in the story, you see that 2,200 of those live-coverage hours will be online. This is great news for people who will be at work during the day sitting in front of the computer.

It's also another smart move by NBC because even if they carried all the events live on a network, most people wouldn't be able to see them because they would be in front of a computer anyway.

I think NBC deserves credit for even attempting a project this large because viewers will be able to almost anything they want.

In 2004, the network dubbed the Athens Games "the complete Olympics," because of the 1,120 hours of coverage.

Now that the number of hours has tripled, I'm curious to see what name they come up with next.

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