On Wednesday, July 9, NBC Universal released its TV schedule for the 2008 Olympics. The company plans to present 3,600 hours of coverage on seven different networks and through nbcolympics.com. This is over 1,000 hours more coverage than all other Olympic TV coverage from the 1960 Olympics in Rome through the 2004 Athens Games.
Wow. 3,600 hours? That's almost half-a-year. Or 212 hours per day for the duration of the Games. No more complaining about missing the archery elimination matches or the fact that your cousin's neighbor's son's girlfriend wasn't shown in the few seconds of fencing coverage. If a sport doesn't make it onto TV, we can catch live video of 25 different sports on nbcolympics.com. Only swimming, gymnastics, volleyball, and boxing won't be streamed live online.
But all is not perfect in this world wide web of sports coverage, especially if you love following your favorite sport live online. The time change between the U.S. and China is literally night and day. If you do want to watch archery, most rounds start about 10 p.m. Eastern time in the U.S. and wrap-up around 6 in the morning from August 10-15 - not bad for insomniacs and those working the night. The rest of us can download the video the next morning. Which is fine, but there's nothing like the suspense of following sports live.
NBC will show swimming and gymnastics live during their primetime coverage, from 8 to 11:30 most nights (EDT). But most of the finals won't be televised until they start after 10 p.m. This means we won't fritter away company time while watching Nastia Liukin on the uneven bars or Michael Phelps possibly winning his eighth gold medal in the men's 4x100 medley relay during the day. But if we're going to bed after midnight, we won't exactly be bouncing into work with our eyes wide open at 8 a.m. either (the women's team final in gymnastics finishes at 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 13; the men's medley relay at 11 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 17).
With so much coverage, it will also be incumbent on us, the viewers, to know the competition schedule of our favorite sports. Unless you know that the badminton men's singles finals will be held Sunday, August 17, from 6:30 to 10 in the morning (EDT), you might miss the coverage on CNBC that day.
To make it easier, nbcolympics.com lets us register and sign up for email and mobile phone alerts about breaking news, who's just won a gold medal or medal for the U.S.A., or what will be shown on primetime. They will also send daily updates and recaps. Unfortunately, they don't let you sign up by sport.
So we might miss some sleep in August, but at least we won't miss out.
Peggy Shinn is a freelance contributor for teamusa.org. This blog was not subject to the approval of the United States Olympic Committee or any National Governing Bodies.