NBC Plans 1,200 Hours of Olympics Coverage

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NBC is planning a 1,200-hour schedule of programming for its coverage of the Summer Olympic Games in Athens, Greece -- a package NBC officials said will be a big moneymaker for the cable affiliates that paid extra to carry the games on the company’s news channels.

The programmer had originally planned to run 806.5 hours of Olympics programming in August on its broadcast network; cable outlets MSNBC, CNBC and Bravo; and Spanish-language hybrid Telemundo.

But following NBC’s recent $14 billion acquisition of Vivendi Universal Entertainment and its flagship USA Network, the Peacock and its cable siblings will now distribute about 1,200 hours of programming from Athens, NBC Olympics executive vice president Gary Zenkel said last week.

Cable operators are being allotted three minutes per hour of local avails for Bravo, MSNBC, CNBC and newly acquired USA, which top NBC Sports executive Dick Ebersol recently said is destined to be “the cable home of the Olympics.”

Zenkel wouldn’t say how many hours of programming would run on USA, saving details for a future announcement, possibly this coming week.

Zaslav declined to discuss if NBC would offer cable operators a rebate on the surcharges they have paid to carry the Olympics should the events be canceled. But he and Zenkel both emphasized that they are very confident that the Athens Games will go on as scheduled.

For more on NBC and the Olympics, please see Steve Donohue’s story on page one of Monday’s edition of Multichannel News.

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