NBC is offering cable operators the option of carrying 265
hours of Summer Olympic Games coverage from Sydney, Australia, on MSNBC and CNBC next
year, officials said last week.
Under the plan, NBC will provide MSOs with an alternate
feed of the 2000 Olympics' events and programming, which they can choose to carry or
not, according to David Zaslav, president of NBC Cable Distribution.
That Olympic coverage is slated to air on MSNBC from 10
a.m. to 5 p.m., switching to CNBC from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. From midnight to 6 a.m., MSNBC
will replay the best of that day's Olympic coverage that aired on cable, Zaslav said.
All of the Olympic coverage will be produced by NBC Sports,
and Zaslav said he fully expects MSOs to carry the events from Sydney.
The Olympic events that cable will carry will be different
than the coverage on the NBC broadcast network, Zaslav said. He added that MSNBC and CNBC
will continue to carry 24-hour programming, so that any cable operators that decide not to
take the alternate Olympic feed can continue airing those two networks' regular
There are 430 hours of Olympic events, and the NBC
broadcast network can only air 165 hours or so, Zaslav said. This leaves more than 200
hours of Olympic events in September 2000 that can find an outlet on CNBC and MSNBC, he
Zaslav wouldn't discuss details of what NBC will
charge cable operators for the special Olympic feed. He said NBC is discussing the
Olympics with operators as it talks to them about renewing carriage agreements for both
CNBC and MSNBC.
Zaslav added that the cost of carrying the Olympic feed
will in effect be rolled into new license fees for those cable networks, but he declined
to call it a surcharge.
"We think that we've put together an exciting
package on cable with a lot of different opportunities," Zaslav said, adding that he
expects the Olympic offer to help boost CNBC's and MSNBC's distribution.
Cable operators will get three minutes of local avails per
hour during the Olympic coverage on CNBC and MSNBC, which amounts to more than 1,500 local
spots to sell, Zaslav said. He added that MSOs will benefit from the heavy amount of
cross-promotion that NBC will do for the Summer Olympics.
According to Zaslav, Monday through Friday from noon to 7
p.m., cable will be the only place to see Summer Olympic coverage. NBC has the rights to
air the Olympics through 2008.