NBC’s Opening Ceremony coverage will air on one hour tape delay

Long-standing, but not popular move with viewers will air much later on West Coast

At a press conference inside the famed Rockefeller Center in New York on Tuesday, key officials from NBC Sports and Comcast reassured the American viewing public that the opening ceremonies from Rio on Friday, August 5 will be “not just a flash of color,” according to NBC Sports Group chairman and Comcast CEO Mark Lazarus.

The coverage with Matt Lauer, Meredith Vieira, and Hoda Kotb will start at 8 p.m. Eastern (which is the same time when the NBC Sports Live Extra app will begin streaming as well), 7 p.m. Central and Mountain, and 8 p.m. Pacific time.

This means that the Parade of Nations will already be seen by over half the nation by the time most California people like Fabiana Passoni and Bianca Rossini settle in to watch NBC’s overage.

Remember also, NBC Sports will provide a one-hour preview show on Thursday, August 4 at 8 p.m. Eastern as Bob Costas will report live from Rio and join other key reporters as they interview the women’s Olympic gymnastics team, along with swimmers Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky, and women’s beach volleyball star Kerri-Walsh Jennings looks to add one more gold medal to her trophy case before returning to finish the AVP season come September.

Other comments that I found interesting, according to an article posted on philly.com (the full link is given below) came from again Mark Lazarus:

“You can never be sure of anything in this world, but I’m pretty hopeful and reasoned – with lots of people and experts telling me so – that for our employees, our broadcasts, our guests, they’re going to have an incredible experience.”

Responding to reporters questions on Monday.  The Tuesday comments are below:

It’s also not just about the Parade of Nations. There’s pageantry and art and other things in it. By doing a short tape-delay of one hour, it allows us to put it in a time period when more people are home to watch, because it is a Friday night and they get out of their commute or home from wherever they are. And it allows us to curate it with the narrative and storytelling of our announcers to explain what’s going on. And it allows us to put in commercials without cutting out large chunks of the show…

It’s hard to put commercials in a live show and not miss something. Then the question would be: Well, why do you have to ruin it with commercials? We are a for-profit organization, and we spend a lot of money to put on the Olympics, and I think [we have] the right – and duty to our shareholders – to make some revenue from that. What we’ve seen is when we delayed the London Games [ceremonies] by five hours and the Sochi (Russia) ceremonies by nine hours, people were still excited to see them. I’m hopeful that will be the case here.

Jim Bell, NBC Olympics Executive Producer–the man primarily responsible for once again pulling the plug on live ceremony coverage for the United States:

First of all, it’s not a sports competition, it’s a ceremony that requires deep levels of understanding all the various camera angles and meanings for the host country, and our commentary laid over it. So our announcers, when the Parade of Nations comes in, [are] talking about the athletes. Plus, again, we talked about prime time being important. It is still when most people can watch. I can’t speak for anybody here, but I think that for most people, it’s fair to say that after 8 o’clock is a time when most people can watch TV. Six, seven are okay, but still a little bit on the early side…

Gary Zenkel, NBC Olympics Presdient:

It’s generally one of – if not our highest rated night. So I don’t think the audience is that troubled by it not being live. Remember, it’s not a sports event. There isn’t a result. It’s a show, and we think we’re serving the audience better by offering that show with a little bit of time to produce it, and when they [viewers] are available. Remember, the Opening Ceremonies start at 7 o’clock east coast time. More people are around to watch later. So why is it not seen as us actually serving the audience? Missing out? Why? They’ll see it. It’s coming.

John MIller, NBC Olympics Chief Marketing Officer:

The Opening Ceremonies, to a large degree, are sort of in two parts. There’s a show, and when you see the show and how the show is put together, you want to make sure it’s a good show. Then the rest of it is sort of the countries walking in, and the flag coming in, and the torches and the speeches. But when the torch gets lit, is it essential to see that live, or is it essential to see that in context?…

The entire west coast [group of viewers] that watch on broadcast… prime time begins at 8 o’clock, not 5 o’clock [Pacific Time, which is 8 p.m. Eastern, when the online stream will start]. Historically, the west coast has always been 20 percent higher [in terms of viewership] than the east coast. People who have wanted to see things live, they say, “Well, how is that possible? People already know what it is!” In the case of the Olympics, it’s not about the result, it’s about the journey.

The people who watch the Olympics are not particularly sports fans. More women watch the Games than men, and for the women, they’re less interested in the result and more interested in the journey. It’s sort of like the ultimate reality show and mini-series wrapped into one. And to tell the truth, it has been the complaint of a few sports writers. It has not been the complaint of the vast viewing public.

Rick Cordella, senior VP/GM of NBC Sports Digital talking about the streaming coverage:
We get it. We need context around it. You see sometimes in these host feed videos that there’s not that American point of view, there’s not this understanding that you may know who this Russian athlete is or this other athlete from a different country. So you need the context. I understand that…

At the end of the day, we come up with a conclusion and say this is what’s best for NBC, what’s best for the user and that’s how we roll.

The full article can be found here:
Latest ESPN defector to cover indoor volleyball, and will be sideline reporter for five game Thursday Night Football package
Joining Mike Tirico as NBC Sports Group’s newest employee is 24 year ESPN veteran Heather Cox.  She covered beach volleyball during the last three Summer Games and after spending the last several years on ABC’s primetime Saturday college football coverage, Heather will cover the sidelines in a sport she used to play in–indoor volleyball.
A captain at the University of Pacific, the Lady Tigers were ranked in the top five during her four years there from 1988-1991.  As a junior, Heather was part of the NCAA Final Four that finished in 1990 as the runner-up.  Earlier that summer, she was a member of the U.S. National Volleyball Team at the 1990 Olympic Festival and later in the decade was captain of the Sacramento Stars in the professional league of the National Volleyball Association for three seasons (1993-1995).
She will also cover golf and other high-profile events for the Peacock, but probably the biggest assignment will be reuniting with Mike Tirico during the Thursday night NFL package that he will announce alongside veteran analyst Cris Collinsworth.
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