The Sochi 2014 and Rio 2016 Paralympic Games will receive an unprecedented 116 combined hours of coverage in the United States, as NBC Olympics and the United States Olympic Committee have partnered to acquire the U.S. media rights to the next two Paralympic Games.
NBC and NBCSN will combine to air 50 hours of television coverage for March’s Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games, starting on March 7 with the Opening Ceremony. It will be followed by daily coverage of all five Paralympic sports in the Sochi program, before the Games’ Closing Ceremony is broadcast on March 16.
In Sept. 2016, NBC and NBCSN will show 66 hours of coverage from the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, an increase of 60.5 hours from the coverage of the London 2012 Paralympic Games. The 2016 Games are set to be the biggest yet with more than 4,300 athletes competing in 22 sports, and aim to build on the success of London 2012 which were broadcast to a global cumulated audience of 3.8 billion in 115 countries.
In addition to the unprecedented U.S. television coverage, the USOC will provide live online coverage of both the Sochi and Rio Paralympic Games at TeamUSA.org.
“We are absolutely delighted to announce this two-Games agreement with NBC and the USOC as it provides more airtime of the Paralympics than ever before in the U.S.,” said Sir Phillip Craven, president of the International Paralympic Committee. “Following the success of London 2012, we said it was absolutely essential for the growth of the Paralympic Movement and the Paralympic Games that in future years U.S audiences had a greater opportunity to watch some of the world’s best elite athletes in action.
“This is tremendous news for sports fans, too, many of which will be able to watch a Paralympic Games live for the first time. I am sure they will be as captivated and emotionally enthralled as the billions around the world who tuned into London 2012 last summer.”
“With the support of the IPC, USOC and leading corporate sponsors, we are thrilled to provide an unprecedented level of coverage for the Paralympic Games from both Sochi and Rio,” said Gary Zenkel, president of NBC Olympics. “We look forward to telling the inspiring stories of the athletes and capturing the compelling competition across NBC and NBCSN.”
“We are thrilled with NBC Olympics’ commitment to growing the Paralympic Movement in the United States,” said USOC CEO Scott Blackmun. “With the expanded coverage to be provided through this NBC and USOC partnership, the competition from the Paralympic Games in both Sochi and Rio, and the stories of our country’s best physically disabled and visually impaired athletes, will unfold every day and night. We are proud to have a partner that understands the importance of the Paralympic Movement and is committed to growing its impact.”
“This important partnership with NBC is another boost to our on-going efforts to showcase the most innovative Paralympic Winter Games in history,” Sochi 2014 President and Chief Executive Officer Dmitry Chernyshenko said. “We believe that the Paralympics are already acting as a genuine catalyst to change attitudes both in Russia and across the world – NBC’s coverage will further help to achieve this goal and introduce millions more viewers to the excitement of the Paralympic Games.”
“Rio 2016 will be the biggest Paralympic Games in history with 4,350 athletes competing across 22 sports and we are delighted that NBC will broadcast more coverage than ever before in the U.S.," Rio 2016 President Carlos Nuzman said. "We are working closely together with the International Paralympic Committee to continue the growth of Paralympic sport and we are confident that the images broadcast from the Rio Games in 2016 will inspire and excite sports fans across the Americas and around the world.”
NBCSN will broadcast 46.5 hours of competition from Sochi while NBC will air an additional 3.5 hours of coverage. The comprehensive programming will feature Paralympic competition in alpine skiing, biathlon, cross-country skiing, sled hockey, wheelchair curling and the new discipline of snowboard cross.
In addition to the comprehensive television plan on NBC and NBC Sports Network, which will include 10 consecutive days of coverage of the Games, the USOC will provide live online coverage of all competition events and Opening and Closing Ceremonies on TeamUSA.org.
This unprecedented Paralympic Winter Games coverage is made possible through the support of the broadcast and streaming sponsors BMW, BP, Citi, Liberty Mutual and Procter & Gamble, marking the first time the broadcast has been exclusively sold to USOC sponsors.
“As a proud supporter of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Teams, we are delighted to partner with NBC and the U.S. Olympic Committee on this groundbreaking broadcast event,” said Dermot Boden, Citi’s global chief brand officer. “For the first time, Americans will be able to experience the excitement, drama and spirit of the Paralympic Games live and celebrate with our inspirational athletes as they achieve their dreams.”
Over 10 days, the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games will feature near 700 athletes with a physical disability or visual impairment from 45 countries competing in seven disciplines of five sports. The Games feature 72 medal events (34 men, 34 women, four mixed).
Team USA will compete in each of the sports contested in Sochi with an estimated team of 77 athletes. For the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games, the U.S. sent 50 athletes, winning four gold medals, five silver medals and four bronze medals, finishing fifth overall in the medal count. In 2010, Andy Soule (Pearland, Texas), a U.S. Army veteran, won a bronze medal in the men’s sitting 2.4-kilometer individual pursuit biathlon event, becoming the first U.S. biathlete to medal at an Olympic or Paralympic Winter Games.
Of the 50 athletes who competed in Vancouver, five were military athletes: alpine skier Heath Calhoun (Clarksville, Tenn.), ret., U.S. Army; Nordic skier Sean Halsted (Spokane, Wash./Twin Lakes, Idaho), ret., U.S. Air Force; wheelchair curler Patrick McDonald (Madison, Wis.), ret. U.S. Army; Soule; and alpine skier Chris Devlin-Young (Campton, N.H.), ret., U.S. Coast Guard. All are Sochi hopefuls including Calhoun, who was the U.S. flag bearer for the 2010 Opening Ceremony.
At London 2012, Team USA featured 227 athletes and guides, including 20 active duty and veteran service members, who finished sixth in the medals table having won 98 medals. Top performers included swimmer Jessica Long (Baltimore, Md.), who won five gold medals, two silver medals and one bronze medal in nine events, and wheelchair racer Ray Martin (Jersey City, N.J.), who won four gold medals in four events.