NBC Plans Break in Olympics Tradition With A.M. Broadcast of Opening Ceremonies

The Opening Ceremonies of the Summer Olympics have long been something reserved for primetime TV — a glitzy event that draws big crowds with spectacle and flash. For the 2021 version, however, NBC plans to make them available before most viewers have had their first cup of coffee for the day.

NBC plans to pre-empt an entire day of programming on the opening day of the next Summer Olympics, offering a telecast of the early ceremonies as they happen live on July 23, between 6:55 a.m. eastern and 11 a.m. eastern. They will be followed by a mid-afternoon broadcast of NBC News’ “Today,” three hours of afternoon coverage and a re-broadcast of the opening event in the evening. The break with tradition comes after the Summer Games have been delayed by a year due to the coronavirus pandemic and as NBC’s parent company, Comcast, hopes to make good on a massive $7.75 billion investment on rights for the Olympics in the U.S. between 2021 and 2032.

“Given the magnitude of this event, we want to provide viewers with as many ways to connect to it as possible, live or in primetime,” said Pete Bevacqua, chairman, NBC Sports Group, in a prepared statement.

NBCUniversal over the years has made more Olympics content available via digital means and has worked to transmit the Games live, even when their home base has been in countries where the events take place in inconvenient times for U.S. viewers. But the new plan suggests that, in a world where consumers expect more and more content to be made available at times of their own choosing, primetime is whenever an individual consumer wants it.

More to come….

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