New York -- The NBC Sports Group will present its version of the Red Zone from Sochi.
Beginning on Feb. 8, America’s Olympic programmer will debut Gold Zone, a whip-around service tracking up-to-the-minute action from the 2014 Winter Games. Gold Zone, which was announced during NBC Sports’ Olympics press event here at Studio 8H at 30 Rock on Jan. 7, will be available to authenticated subscribers on NBCOlympics.com and NBC Sports Live Extra app, enabling users to check out multiple events.
Gold Zone is redolent of the ad-hoc highlights services proffered by DirecTV and NFL Network spotlighting pro football action on Sundays.
Co-hosts Andrew Siciliano and Ryan Burr will provide context to what’s being streamed and will keep fans up-to-date as the video player switches from event to event. In addition to live look-ins, Gold Zone will also offer highlights, interviews and athlete profiles.
Gary Zenkel, president of NBC Olympics, said NBC had deployed a similar service, sans hosts, during the London Games. However, viewers during the 2012 Summer Games were only alerted to what was coming next on the service by NBC staffers’ tweets.
With Gold Zone, users will be apprised of what’s coming up and with a contextual set-up -- e.g. the hockey game is tied at 2 with two minutes remaining in the third period.
Zenkel believes Red Zone will hold significant appeal to Olympic fans who are more interested in lean-back experience, rather than searching across NBCOlympics’ 1,000 hours of live-stream action.
The 2014 Games will mark the first Winter Olympics in which competitions across all 15 sports, including each medal-winning performance in 98 competitions, will be live-streamed on NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports Live Extra app, the vast majority of which will be available only to authenticated video subscribers.
The verification process should become more facile for customers to video services offered by Comcast’s Xfinity, Cablevision’s Optimum TV, Cox Communications, Verizon FiOS and Midcontinent Communications as the distributors will employ home auto IP detection for the Olympic content to their subscribers. Comcast and Cablevision offered IP-identification during the London Games.
One event users will not be able to see live on their computers, laptops, smartphones and tablets is the Opening Ceremony on Feb. 7.
NBC Sports chairman Mark Lazarus said that providing a live feed of the expansive event wouldn’t provide the necessary cultural references, hallmarks of NBC’s primetime coverage, which will be helmed by Bob Costas, Matt Lauer, Meredith Viera and Dave Remnick from 7:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. that night.
“We want to put context to it, with the full pageantry it deserves,” said Lazarus, noting that a decision had not yet been reached regarding whether NBC Sports will live-stream the Closing Ceremony. However, the programmer is “leaning” in that direction, stating that the concluding event “is much more of a party than a theatrical performance.”
Comcast's programming company also announced that two-time Olympic figure skating medalist Nancy Kerrigan will serve as a figure skating analyst across various platforms, including NBC and NBCSN, which will provide unprecedented coverage of the men 's and women's competitions. Lazarus said the national cable network will expand its reach from 80 million to 85 million subscribers by the time the Games begin.
Kerrigan will also appear on the Today show, Access Hollywood and E!