PYEONGCHANG, SOUTH KOREA—Athletes spend years of training for their moment at the Olympics, making sure to give the opportunity everything they’ve got. It seems that NBC is taking that methodology to heart this year in terms of its coverage of the 2018 Winter Games.
Over the last few months, NBC Olympics has shared its plans for the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea; these Winter Games could be one of the biggest Olympics yet in terms of production and coverage plan for the network.
The 14-hour time difference between South Korea and the Eastern U.S. will not only allow NBC to air events live and in prime time, but will, for the first time, allow the network to offer live coverage for the entire country, including daytime, primetime and late night programming. This will help prevent the network from being pre-empted by social media sharing results before NBC’s broadcasts.
NBC’s coverage will officially kick off on Feb. 8, but the Opening Ceremony will not take place until Feb. 9. However, in another first, NBC will offer a live stream for the Opening Ceremony. An edited version will be shown later in prime time.
Hosting the Opening Ceremony for these Winter Games will be the new duo of Mike Tirico and Katie Couric. Tirico is taking over Bob Costas’ long time role as lead Olympic broadcaster. Couric returns to cover the Opening Ceremony after having previously hosted for Sydney, Salt Lake City and Athens.
NBC Olympics is rounding out its broadcasting team with a number of anchors from its NBC Sports Regional Networks. NBC Sports Boston’s Abby Chin and Trenni Kusnierek, NBC Sport Chicago’s Leila Rahami, NBC Sport Washington’s Julie Donaldson and Ahmed Fareed, and NBC Sports Bay Area’s Jim Kozimor will head to PyeongChang to cover specific sports and handle hosting duties for the some of the broadcaster’s additional programming.
‘BEST FEB EVER’
All of this is part of NBC’s planned 2,400 hours of coverage, more than the combined total coverage of the Games in Vancouver and Sochi, and the most for a single Winter Games. The Games will also see record streaming coverage, as NBC plans 1,800 hours of live streaming across NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports app.
The coverage of the Olympics is just one part of what NBC has dubbed “The Best Feb Ever.” The network is also broadcasting Super Bowl LII on Feb. 4 between the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles and has announced it plans to give a big push for the games during the Big Game.
That isn’t the only bit of cross promotion for NBC. NBC Olympics has produced a two-part original series that will be streamed by Netflix to help with the lead-up to the games. “Go for the Gold” and “Meet Team USA” profile a number of Olympians, including Shaun White, Mikaela Shiffrin and Lindsey Vonn. The series are now available on the streaming platform and will remain there until Feb. 25.
It’s not just the programming that NBC is making new strides with; there will be a number of new ways on how the viewers can watch the Games. NBC Olympics is working with Intel VR to provide 50 hours of live VR coverage to authenticated viewers with Windows Mixed Reality headsets, Samsung Gear VR and Google Daydream with compatible iOS and Android devices via the NBC Sports VR app. VR coverage will include the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, alpine skiing, curling, snowboarding, skeleton, figure skating, short track speed skating, ski jumping, ice hockey and snowboard big air. There will also be additional VR highlights daily of sports not covered live.
The Games will also bump up its resolution as NBC Olympics plans to distribute the games in 4K HDR to cable, satellite and telco providers. The 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro were offered in 4K, but that coverage was not distributed in HDR. Events planned to be covered in 4K HDR include the Opening Ceremony, hockey, figure skating, short track speed skating, ski jumping and big air. Olympics Broadcasting Services and Japan’s NHK will provide the 4K HDR coverage. NBC Olympics will then distribute the content to U.S. distribution partners, who will make their own decisions on how to make the content available to their customers.
NBC Universal’s parent company Comcast is also getting in on the Winter Olympic frenzy. Comcast has developed a Winter Olympics content hub for its X1 platform. The content hub will be available across all of its X1 set-top boxes and the Stream app for smartphones, tablets and web browsers. Comcast will tie in NBC’s 2,400 hours of coverage to the hub along with customized “virtual” Olympic channels, integration with the X1 Sports app and X1 voice remote, real-time medal counts and provide a select batch of content offered in 4K HDR with Dolby Atmos.
NBC’s coverage of the 2018 Winter Olympics kicks off Feb. 8 and will continue until the Closing Ceremonies Feb. 25.