Aug 09 Highlights from Olympic coverage, and a look ahead

Aug. 09, 2008, 11:48 p.m. (ET)

A look at NBC Universal's coverage of the Summer Olympics:

RATINGS: The Beijing Olympics' spectacular opening ceremony drew an average of 34.2 million viewers for NBC on Friday night, the biggest television event since the Super Bowl. It was the most-watched Olympics opening ever, excepting ceremonies that happened on U.S. soil. It was a relief to NBC executives, who were worried about the effect of video getting out online before it could be shown on TV. Instead, word of mouth Friday appeared to help NBC.

HIGHLIGHT: Michael Phelps. Who else? NBC has made him the centerpiece of the Olympics - two profile pieces and an "NBC Nightly News" segment on Saturday alone - and he delivered with his first gold medal. Seeing it live made it all the more thrilling.

LOWLIGHT: We know gymnastics pays the bills for NBC, but the extensive taped coverage of lackluster preliminary rounds at the start of Saturday's prime-time broadcast was a real drag.

QUOTE: "Phelps is Tiger (Woods) in a Speedo. He hates to lose" - swimming play-by-play announcer Dan Hicks.

MURDER: NBC wisely didn't shy away from bad news, opening its Saturday morning telecast with Peter Alexander's report on the stabbing of the in-laws of the U.S. Olympic men's volleyball coach. The story was admittedly 10 hours older by prime-time, but was important enough to merit more than the short mentions by Bob Costas.

WHERE'S DAD? This is admittedly a male perspective, but Cris Collinsworth's otherwise fine profile of 41-year-old swimmer Dara Torres made no mention of her 2-year-old child's father. Someone else must be making a sacrifice while Torres does her grueling training. We certainly hope the topic wasn't avoided because the parents aren't married.

WHEN TO WATCH SUNDAY (TIMES EDT, SUBJECT TO CHANGE): NBC and NBC HD (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.), U.S. vs. China live men's basketball, swimming, beach volleyball, U.S. vs. China men's water polo, women's weightlifting gold medal final; NBC and NBC HD (7 p.m. to midnight), live swimming gold medal finals in men's breaststroke, freestyle relay and women's butterfly, freestyle, women's gymnastics team competition, women's diving gold medal final, rowing; NBC and NBC HD (12:35 a.m. to 2 a.m.), U.S. vs. Cuba live women's volleyball; USA and USA HD (2 a.m. to 2 p.m.), U.S. vs. Netherlands live men's soccer, live tennis, live Lithuania vs. Argentina men's basketball; beach volleyball, equestrian, women's archery and men's weightlifting; CNBC and CNBC HD (midnight to 4 a.m.), live tennis, boxing; CNBC and CNBC HD (4 p.m. to 7 p.m.) boxing; MSNBC (5 a.m. to 5 p.m.), U.S. vs. Argentina live women's field hockey, Italy vs. South Korea live men's soccer, men's shooting gold medal final, men's water polo, handball and shooting; Telemundo (4 a.m. to 2 p.m.), live Argentina vs. Australia men's soccer, New Zealand vs. Brazil men's soccer, volleyball, swimming, men's basketball and gymnastics.

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