NBC launches ambitious Web site for 2008 Olympics

The network said the online platform would be key to its global Internet strategy for 2008.
NBC’s Olympic Web site will feature 2200 hours of live streaming video, or about 61 percent of the total 3600 hours of game coverage that NBCU has committed to.

As another sign of the increasing emphasis of the Internet in sports media, NBC has launched a new Web site for next summer’s Olympics in Beijing.

Though now only in a basic form, the network said the online platform www.NBCOlympics.com — with 2200 hours of live streaming — would be critical to its global Internet strategy for 2008.

In a report by Media Daily News, NBC is said to be viewing the new Web site as a key revenue generator with special media and its own sponsors. Though the site so far only has NBC house ads, the network expects to sell pre-roll spots for highlighted video and integrated commercial content in the live event coverage to be distributed by the site.

Online since Aug. 8, the site now includes pre-Olympic information, blogs, user comments and assorted video, including highlights from previous Summer Olympics. The current content is not sponsored, but heavy promotion is set to begin next year.

The Web site proved to be a bright spot for NBC during last year’s Torino games, when it lost $70 million, Media Daily News reported. During those games, the site had millions of video streams and hundreds of millions of page views. Because of the unanticipated traffic and interest levels, NBC opted to stream the men’s gold medal hockey game between Sweden and Finland live.

NBC Universal executives were disappointed with the live TV performance, but surprised by the popularity of the online content. Next summer, about 61 percent of the 3600 hours of game coverage will be streamed on the site. In addition, about 3000 hours of highlighted content will also be available simultaneously.

NBC, USA, MSNBC and CNBC will share TV coverage with HD telecasts on NBC’s HD affiliates, USA HD and Universal HD. Spanish-language Olympic coverage will be seen on NBC Universal’s Telemundo.

Wireless coverage will be announced in the coming months. The 12-hour time difference between Beijing and the Eastern time zone will mean many taped events, but NBC says live swimming, gymnastics and beach volleyball will air in primetime.