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2004 Olympic Games

NBC’s unprecedented 24-hour, around-the-clock coverage of the 2004 Olympic Games from Athens will total 1,210 hours and expanded from five to seven platforms with the addition today of high definition coverage on NBC’s HDTV affiliates and coverage on USA Network.  The announcement was made by Dick Ebersol, Chairman, NBC Universal Sports & Olympics.

“We are all eager to showcase the Summer Olympics in unprecedented fashion and to take on the daunting challenge of producing as much total programming from Athens as the last five Summer Olympics combined,” said Ebersol.

Following is a breakdown of the Athens Olympic coverage on the NBC networks: 

  • Over the 17 days of the Athens Games (Aug. 13-29), NBC’s coverage will average more than 70 hours per day – that’s more coverage than was produced in total for each Olympics until the 1976 Montreal Games delivered 76.5 hours.
  • The six NBC networks: NBC, MSNBC, CNBC, USA, Bravo and Telemundo, plus an NBC High Definition platform, will offer the most in-depth Olympic coverage in history.  The 1,210 hours NBC will broadcast from Athens is more than the combined total of 1,133 hours broadcast from the last five previous Summer Olympics...Sydney, Atlanta, Barcelona, Seoul and Los Angeles.
  • The 1,210 total hours of coverage from Athens nearly triples the 441.5 total hours of coverage from Sydney on NBC, CNBC and MSNBC in 2000; and is more than seven times the 171.5 broadcast hours from Atlanta on NBC in 1996.
  • For the first time by a U.S. broadcaster at a Summer Olympics, NBC will provide high definition coverage.  NBC’s HDTV affiliates will offer separate, in-depth coverage in high definition from several venues in Athens.  The high definition coverage on NBC digital affiliates totals 399 hours and accounts for the vast majority of the increased coverage.  The USA Network coverage will be 49 total hours.
  • Telemundo’s Spanish-language broadcast will provide the first exclusively non-English language Olympic broadcast in U.S. television history.  The 169.5 hours in Spanish on Telemundo is nearly equal to the 171.5 total hours of coverage on NBC from Atlanta just eight years ago.
  • The networks of NBC will provide some coverage of every one of the 28 Summer Olympic sports.
  • The NBC networks will offer more live coverage from Athens than any Olympics in history, domestic or foreign, despite the seven-hour time difference from the eastern time zone to Athens.

Following is a breakdown of coverage by network and a standard weekday schedule:

The NBC network schedule is divided into three dayparts: afternoon, primetime and late night – for a total of 226 hours of coverage over 17 days beginning with the Opening Ceremony on Friday, Aug. 13, at 8 p.m.  NBC’s primetime coverage will include gymnastics, swimming, diving, track and field.

The first week of the Olympics features gymnastics and swimming, two sports in which the USA is especially strong this year.  The USA’s women’s gymnastics team is the reigning world champion and favorite for a team gold medal and the USA men’s gymnastics team is led by Paul Hamm, the reigning all-around world champion.  In swimming, the USA is as strong as ever.  Michael Phelps, the 19-year-old phenom, is looking for a record gold medal haul and Natalie Coughlin is the world record holder in the 100m backstroke and a multi-medal threat.

For the first time by a U.S. broadcaster at a Summer Olympics, NBC will provide high definition coverage.  NBC’s separate, unique HDTV coverage on NBC’s digital affiliates, presented by Sony Electronics Inc., will provide HDTV coverage on delay of six sports from the only main Olympic venues provided in high definition by the Olympic host broadcaster.  Those sports include swimming, diving, gymnastics, track and field, medal rounds of basketball and the men’s soccer gold medal final.  The HDTV coverage will total 399 hours and is a completely different production from the standard definition broadcast on the network.  NBC has 124 HDTV affiliates with the potential to cover 86 percent of the country.

“The addition of a special high definition Olympic platform, specifically for our affiliate partners, is something they have long sought,” said Randy Falco, President, NBC Universal Television Networks Group.  “We are delighted to be able to provide it to them exclusively.”  

MSNBC, available in 82 million households, will carry a total of 133.5 hours over 18 days.  MSNBC will be the main provider of live, weekday, long-form coverage of a full range of Olympic sports, including softball, soccer, beach volleyball, wrestling, canoeing, basketball, rowing, and weightlifting.  On weekends, MSNBC will cover boxing, while CNBC carries live coverage of a wide range of Olympic sports.  On each of the two days prior to the Opening Ceremony, Wednesday, Aug. 11 and Thursday, Aug. 12, MSNBC also will provide coverage of the opening soccer matches.

The addition of Olympic coverage to MSNBC has had a profound impact during the past two Games.  During the 2000 Sydney Games, the first Olympics carried on NBC’s Cable Networks, MSNBC posted triple-digit increases over its normal delivery in comparable time periods (a .7 average cable rating from a .2).

CNBC, available in 86 million households, will carry 111 hours of Olympic programming over 16 days, beginning Saturday, Aug. 14, 2004.  On weekdays following “Closing Bell,” CNBC will feature long-form coverage of Olympic boxing from 5-8 p.m. ET.  On weekends, CNBC will have expanded, live, long-form coverage of a wide variety of Olympic sports including beach volleyball, soccer and taekwondo while MSNBC covers boxing.

The addition of Olympic coverage to CNBC has made a significant impact as well.  During the 2000 Sydney Games, CNBC posted double-digit gains (a .5 average cable rating from a .3).

Bravo, available in 76 million households and delivering one of the most upscale audiences in cable television, will carry a total of 122 hours of Olympic coverage over 14 days, also beginning Saturday, Aug. 14, 2004. Bravo will feature a wide range of sports including tennis, equestrian, sailing, track cycling, archery, badminton, judo, synchronized swimming, handball and table tennis.

USA Network, available in 88 million homes and billed as the cable home of the U.S. Olympic Team since it began airing regular U.S. Olympic Trials coverage in May, will continue with that theme during the Games with live coverage of many of the USA women’s and men’s basketball games.  USA’s 49 hours of Olympic coverage from Athens covers 14 days beginning at 8 a.m. ET on Sunday, Aug. 15 with live start-to-finish coverage of the women’s cycling road race through the streets of Athens – an event that has traditionally aired on NBC in primetime.  In addition, USA will provide live, all day, Grand Slam-style coverage of all the tennis gold medal finals (men’s and women’s singles and doubles) on the middle weekend of the Games, Aug. 21-22.

“Athens will be the first Games in which U.S. television includes some coverage of every Olympic sport,” Ebersol said.  “In Sydney, we introduced Olympic coverage on MSNBC and CNBC and received extremely positive feedback from viewers of many Olympic sports that were previously largely unavailable to audiences in long-form.  Now, with the addition of USA to MSNBC, CNBC and Bravo, we have the platforms, along with the NBC network and Telemundo, to do much more of this.”

Telemundo will provide 169.5 hours of Olympic coverage over 18 days.  This marks the first time in U.S. television history that the Olympic Games have exclusive coverage in any language other than English.  Telemundo will feature soccer, boxing and semifinal and gold medal final of baseball.  Telemundo, in addition to MSNBC, will provide coverage of opening soccer matches on Wednesday, Aug. 11, and Thursday, Aug. 12, 2004.

“Telemundo allows us to distribute the Olympics to a wider and more diverse audience than ever before,” Ebersol said.  “The Hispanic audience is both the largest and fastest growing ethnic minority in the U.S., but the vast majority of the audience has never before had the opportunity to watch the Olympics in their own language.”

Telemundo reaches 91 percent of U.S. Hispanic viewers in 118 markets through its 15 owned-and-operated stations, 32 broadcast affiliates and nearly 450 cable affiliates.


By Network:                                                   

NBC:  12:30-4 p.m.
         8 p.m.-Midnight             
        12:35-2 a.m.                            
        2-5 a.m. (Prime Replay)          


2 a.m.-7 a.m.          
10 a.m.-4 p.m.                                 

CNBC: 5-8 p.m.                           

USA: 7-10 a.m.                    

5 a.m.-Noon                        
5-8 p.m.                                          
Midnight-1 a.m. 

Telemundo: 1-8 p.m.

HDTV: 24 Hours-a-day                                               


2 a.m.-7 a.m.

Bravo:  5 a.m. - Noon

USA:  7-10 a.m.                          

10 a.m.-4 p.m.

NBC:  12:30-4 p.m.

Telemundo:1-8 p.m.

Bravo:      5-8 p.m.

CNBC: 5-8 p.m.

NBC:  8 p.m.-Midnight

Bravo:      Midnight-1 a.m.

NBC:  12:35-2 a.m.

NBC:  2-5 a.m. (Prime Replay)

HDTV: 24 Hours-a-day   

A detailed programming and event schedule will be made available in the coming weeks. will provide up-to-the-minute television schedule information, breaking news, instantaneous results and video highlights. 

As the official on-air viewer’s guide to NBC’s 24-hour coverage of the Athens Games, TV Guide Channel and TV Guide’s interactive program guide will provide viewers with around-the-clock tune-in information for all of NBC’s Olympic coverage, including information on specific events airing in the upcoming hour and days; an on-screen at-a-glance guide to which events are airing where and when, and original TV Guide Channel specials that will introduce viewers to Olympic athletes and feature different aspects of the competition they will see during NBC’s coverage of the Games.

NBC, America’s Olympic Network, holds the exclusive U.S. media rights to the Olympic Games through 2012, which include Athens in 2004, Torino, Italy in 2006, Beijing in 2008, Vancouver 2010 and the Summer Games of 2012.