Every two years, the Olympics captivate the entire world. Well, a better way to say it is a select few sports in the Olympics captivate the world. With the Winter Olympics in Sochi happening next month, the majority of air time will be devoted to hockey, skating, and downhill sports. Events such as biathlon and curling get somewhat shafted in coverage. At least, that has been the case in the past

All of the Olympic coverage will be handled by the NBC Universal family of networks, and they have a plan to ensure that every event is substantially covered. The five television stations and online streaming on NBCOlympics.com will have more than 1500 hours of Olympics coverage, including a record 539 hours of television coverage alone.

In the past few Olympic Games, events have been aired live sparsely throughout the day to countries on the other side of the world, and then given primetime coverage after the fact. But in the world of social media and internet, NBC has realized there really is no way to keep the drama in their later broadcasts. Thus, NBC’s sports station, NBC Sports Network, and the other family stations will air real-time sports throughout the two and a half weeks. Almost every figure skating event will air live during the day on NBC Sports Network. NBC is hoping to make it so Americans wanting to feel the suspense of an event do not have to go into hiding all day until primetime coverage kicks off.

A big part of NBC’s effort is the 1000-plus hours being streamed live online. NBC began streaming during the London Summer Olympics of 2012 and discovered that it did not negatively impact primetime ratings. Even if they did see the events aired live online, many people choose to tune in later to re-watch exciting events with added commentary and post-event interviews. This has the greatest appeal to Americans who are used to watching sports during the day on weekends.

However, primetime coverage on the NBC home station remains the main attraction of the network since that is where the advertisers pay big money to air. As such, the big money events like hockey, snowboard cross, and speed skating will be covered the most in the evenings, while figure skating, curling, and ski jumping will be more daytime events.

Some advertisers are even using their own opportunities to create buzz for some of the lesser-known sports. Guinness recently ran an ad featuring the Barnes sisters, who compete in biathlon. One sister, Tracey qualified for the Olympics while the other, Lanny did not due to an illness that kept her out of several qualifying events. Tracy decided to cede her qualifying spot to her sister, saying to 3wire Sports: “Love means giving up your dream so someone else can realize theirs.”

“Love means giving up your dream so someone else can realize theirs.”

Guinness could only run the ad for a short period of time since Budweiser is the official beer sponsor of the Olympics for Team USA. The company is using their brief advertising opportunity to bring a touching story of an under-followed sport to light. As a result, advertisers and NBC have established a co-beneficial relationship. Ads like this one from Guinness create stories and intrigue that will draw viewers to previously less-watched events.

Though NBC cannot cover every event as much as they would like to during primetime, the family of networks has at least taken the initiative to ensure that every single event gets covered, and every person representing their country is broadcast live for the world to see.


Photo Credit: http://corporate.comcast.com/images/sochi.jpg