NBC’s massive coverage of Beijing begins

Post Details:
• NBC has unofficially begun its coverage of the Beijing Olympics
• Video on NBC’s site uses Silverlight
• Opening ceremony is Friday night
• Prepare yourself for 17 days ‘round the clock coverage

The opening ceremony of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing are Friday, but from the looks of NBCOlympics.com the coverage has already begun. “Today” began broadcasting from Beijing on Monday with Matt Lauer from the Great Wall of China, and early this morning – beginning at midnight Eastern – visitors to the site could see male gymnasts practice live during “podium training.” While nothing spectacular, the event shows NBC’s commitment to coverage and even a we-paid-$900-million-for-the-rights-to-broadcast-the-games-so-we-might-as-well-SHOW-absolutely-EVERTHING motto.

NBC Universal is planning a massive 3,600 hours of online and broadcast coverage; that’s more than the total of all previous televised Summer Olympics in U.S. history. But add the pre-coverage of last night and the three hours per day “Today” will spend when a majority of its broadcast is from Beijing (starting next week), plus Matt’s coverage this week alone… and you’ve got yourself ‘round the clock coverage – and then some.

One thing that interests me about NBC’s site is the software for its streaming video is not a standard Flash-utilized player, but a Microsoft Silverlight-utilized player. Thus, if you want to watch live coverage online you have to download the software to use the slick player. It’s a good experience and an instance where Microsoft is really pushing its player. Plus, Microsoft is a major sponsor for the site – go figure.

The opening ceremony airs on NBC beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET. If you want to watch it live, you’ll have to find a CBC station (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the rights holder up north), which I luckily receive being close to Windsor, Ontario. Coverage continues in the U.S. after the ceremony on the networks of NBC over the course of the 17 days; they include: MSNBC, USA, Telemundo, CNBC, Universal HD, Oh! (Oxygen Network) and NBCOlympics.com.

Get ready for the Summer Olympics, here they come!

To prepare yourself, watch the opening for the 2006 Torino Games (it’s a great meld of music, pictures and narration):

L.A. Times’ coverage of “Today” in Beijing
NY Times has a great
interactive schedule on its Web site


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