(AP) If you miss any of your favorite events during the upcoming Summer Olympics in London, don’t blame NBC.
Every sport, every single competition will be streamed live online or telecast by NBC and its affiliated cable networks in the U.S. this summer— starting with the Great Britain vs. New Zealand women’s soccer game on July 25, two days before the opening ceremony.
It will be the most visible change for NBC in its first Olympics coverage since 1992 not run by veteran television executive Dick Ebersol. Ebersol, executive producer of eight winter and summer Olympic telecasts for NBC, quit as head of NBC Sports in May 2011. He will still be in London working for NBC as a consultant.
On television and online, NBC will offer 5,535 hours of Olympics coverage. The NBC broadcast network itself will have 272 hours, including the flagship prime-time telecast that will amount to a “greatest hits” of each day’s competition.
Ebersol’s successor as NBC Sports Group chairman, Mark Lazarus, ordered the live streaming during his first Olympics planning meeting after taking the new job.
NBC offered streams of several events from the 2008 Beijing Games, but would not present any of the showcase competitions that it was taping for later broadcast in prime time. The concern was that fans who saw the events live online wouldn’t bother watching NBC that night, depressing ratings for the broadcast that mattered most.
In Beijing, however, some marquee events such as swimming were held in the morning in China so they could be televised live in prime time in the United States. In London, the time difference won’t allow for that option.
Lazarus believes that many people who watch an event online will be interested in seeing how NBC handles it later. Fans watching live streams are also expected to use social media, building anticipation for the broadcast.
Any people who don’t want to watch on NBC what they’ve seen online will be more than offset by extra viewers drawn in by the excitement, Lazarus said.
Fans who want to see the streams on NBCOlympics.com will have to verify that they are paying cable or satellite subscribers. NBC says that’s necessary to protect these businesses since they pay a premium to air the NBC cable stations because of the Olympics. While most live streams will be archived, reruns of high-profile events that are going to be shown on the network will not be available until after the West Coast broadcast.
There will be times that NBC’s Olympics website is showing as many as 40 separate competitions at the same time, said Gary Zenkel, president of NBC Olympics.
The time difference—it will be 1 a.m. in London when NBC’s prime-time broadcast begins on the East Coast, 4 a.m. for the West Coast show—means no events will be offered live on the telecast most people watch.
The NBC Sports Network will average 14 hours a day of coverage, focusing on team sports like the U.S. men’s basketball team’s pursuit of gold.
CNBC, as it has in the past, will air boxing when the financial markets are closed. Bravo will telecast tennis. MSNBC is turning its daytime hours over to the Olympics, airing 20 sports from badminton to wrestling. The Spanish-language Telemundo, heavy on soccer and boxing in past games, will offer more hours of Olympics coverage and show a greater variety of sports.