FRIDAY MEDIA COLUMN
For years, during Olympics in far-away time zones, NBC not only taped and saved the best events for prime time, but also wouldn’t consider making them available for live viewing earlier in the day, which exasperated many viewers.
But platforms and technology have expanded –-- from the advent of new cable networks, to the increased popularity of live Internet streaming, to new mobile devices --– and give NBC credit for changing with the times.
During these Sochi Olympics, NBC will stream every event (except the Opening Ceremonies) live on NBCOlympics.com, the second time that has been done in Olympic history and the first time on a Winter Games. NBC’s sports APP also will stream live coverage.
And with the nine-hour time difference between New York and Sochi, NBC executives have decided to allow NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) to carry all of figure skating competition live during the day, with NBC replaying much of it at night, but with different announcers and a more packaged presentation.
Other details on NBC's approach:
### NBC, NBCSN, CNBC, MSNBC and USA will combine for 539 hours. Throw in more than 1000 hours on NBC’s web site, and there will be more coverage of these Winter Olympics than the past two combined.
### NBC’s prime time show --- airing from 8 to 11:30 p.m. on weeknights and Saturdays and 7 to 11 p.m. on Sundays --- will focus on figure skating, speed skating, alpine skiing, short track, snowboard and free style.
NBC’s 185 hours also include a weekday show (3 to 5 p.m.), weekend afternoons and a late-night program (generally from 12:05 to 1:05 a.m.).
### NBC will carry the hockey gold medal games live: the women’s at noon Feb. 20 and the men’s at 6:30 a.m. Feb. 23.
### Besides all of the figure skating, NBCSN’s 230 hours include 16 hockey games and various Team USA events…. CNBC will air curling most days, generally from 5 to 8 p.m…. MSNBC will carry live hockey 11 of its 12 days….USA Network will televise medal round coverage of hockey and curling and three Team Canada hockey games.
### In a concept patterned after the NFL’s “Red Zone” channel, NBC’s web site will offer a “Gold Zone” channel that will whip viewers between key moments of different events, generally from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Miami time. NBC even hired NFL “Red Zone” anchor Andrew Siciliano to handle Gold Zone host duties.
### Bob Costas not only anchors prime time Olympics coverage for the 10th time (most in U.S. history), but also handles late-night duties…. Other host assignments: NBC News anchor Lester Holt (daytime weekdays on NBC); Al Michaels (NBC weekend afternoons, NBCSN weekday afternoons), and Dan Patrick and Rebecca Lowe (NBCSN). Lowe’s stock inside NBC continues to rise because of her strong work on Premier League soccer.
### NBC’s lineup of reporters includes lead NFL analyst Cris Collinsworth and tennis star Maria Sharapova, among others…. Tom Hammond, Scott Hamilton and Sandra Bezic announce figure skating on NBC, while Terry Gannon, Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski handle the live skating coverage on NBCSN.
### Matt Lauer and his former Today show co-host, Meredith Vieira, handle Friday’s opening ceremonies.
### Costas said “the prospect of a terrorist event, the controversy over the anti-gay laws, those things in an odd way have increased awareness and interest in these Games. They don’t take the place of the competition, but I think people will be curious about that.”
AROUND THE DIAL
### With CBS this week acquiring a package of eight early-season Thursday night NFL games, the onus will be on the NFL to schedule consistently better Thursday matchups than NFL Network was given in past years, including Bills-Browns last September. Expect that to happen, considering CBS is believed to be paying more than $250 million.
CBS will produce all 16 games of the package, including 14 Thursday nights and a Week 16 Saturday doubleheader. The first eight of those games will be simulcast on CBS and NFL Network, with the final eight airing only on NFL Network.
Jim Nantz and Phil Simms will announce all 16 games and will also work some Sunday games, primarily when CBS has a double-header. But CBS says it doesn't want to burn them out. CBS also is seeking a new No. 2 game analyst, behind Simms, to replace retiring Dan Dierdorf.
### As expected, Zach Krantz -- who has had a significant on-air presence as Joe Rose’s morning show radio producer -- will become Marc Hochman’s co-host when Hochman takes over the 3-7 p.m. slot on WQAM-560 beginning April 1. Two others will have on-air roles on the show: producer Victor Bermudez and Sha Tabb, who has been working in the 790/104.3 The Ticket’s promotions department.
### Starz has ordered six 30-minutes episodes of LeBron James’ comedy series, Survivor’s Remorse, and plans to air it in the fall. James is the executive producer of the series, which focuses on a basketball phenom who signs a multi-million dollar contract in his early 20s.