2008 Summer Olympics on NBC
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NBC Sports coverage of the 2008 Summer Olympics (the broadcasts being officially titled, as were the games themselves, The Games of the XXIX Olympiad) was broadcast from August 6 to August 24, 2008 (including selecting football matches prior to the opening ceremonies) on the various television networks of NBC Universal in the United States. Coverage was broadcast on NBC, Telemundo, USA Network, CNBC, MSNBC, Oxygen, their associated HDTV simulcast channels where applicable, and Universal HD. NBC also set up two dedicated cable channels, the NBC Olympic Soccer Channel and the NBC Olympic Basketball Channel, for the express purpose of providing additional coverage of those two sports.
The scale of the coverage grew to the same huge proportions as the Games themselves. In 2008, NBC was scheduled to air over 3,600 hours of live coverage (1,400 on the TV networks and 2,200 more online). According to NBC, that is 1,000 more hours than the combined coverage of all Summer Games since that first telecast in 1960. NBC also is using 106 hosts, announcers, and commentators to cover the action. The main transmission center in the United States was Studio 8-H at Rockefeller Center in New York City, where Saturday Night Live is based. Some announcers and hosts were assigned to the New York studio and were not on location in Beijing.
Through August 12, NBC was averaging 30.4 million viewers for each night of primetime coverage, up five million from the same period in 2004. The increased number was attributed to Michael Phelps' ongoing quests for the most gold medals in a single Olympics and in a career. On August 11, NBCOlympics.com had 7.8 million unique page visits and 476,062 downloads from cellular telephones. The number of average viewers had dropped to 28.7 million by August 17, but it still far outpaced shows on other networks. Most programming opposite the Olympics was in reruns, except for Big Brother 10 on CBS and High School Musical: Get in the Picture on ABC.
By the end of the Olympics, NBC estimated a total audience of 214 million people for at least some of the telecasts, an all-time record for any Olympics. In the second week of the Games, all eight primetime telecasts (there were two on August 24) finished in the top eight of the ratings. On all 17 nights, NBC had more viewers than ABC, CBS, and FOX combined. However, ratings on the final Friday and Saturday of the Games were the lowest for primetime coverage since 1988.
Even other sports events saw ratings downturns attributable to Games coverage. Declines ranged from 14 percent for the PGA Tour The Barclays to 36 percent for the Little League World Series final. (scroll to middle of page)
Night by night
|Night||Rating/share[better source needed]||Notes|
|August 8||18.8/34||The opening ceremony was the most-watched night of the Olympics on NBC, with an average audience of 39 million viewers.|
|August 9||13.9/27||Michael Phelps wins first gold medal|
|August 10||18.1/31||Phelps wins second gold medal in a dramatic relay. Bob Costas interviews President George W. Bush.|
|August 11||17.6/29||The US Men's gymnastics team wins an unexpected bronze medal after losing the Hamm brothers to injury before the games. They weren't expected to medal.|
|August 12||19.9/34||Phelps breaks all-time career record for gold medals|
|August 14||17.9/31||Nastia Liukin wins gold medal in women's all-around gymnastics|
|August 15||15.4/28||Phelps ties Mark Spitz with seventh gold medal; after race, Spitz joins NBC coverage via satellite from Detroit, Michigan|
|August 16||17.8/32||Phelps is part of winning relay team, captures eighth gold medal; Usain Bolt breaks 100-meter dash world record|
|August 17||16.0/27||Liukin and Shawn Johnson win apparatus medals|
|August 18||15.8/26||First night in which all coverage was completely on tape in the U.S.|
|August 20||15.2/26||Bolt breaks 200-meter world record; Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh win gold medals in beach volleyball|
|August 21||13.8/23||Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser follow the Women's beach volleyball team in winning gold by defeating Brazil in their championship.|
|August 22||10.7/19||During late night coverage, Lester Holt reports from Beijing that, back in the U.S., Barack Obama has selected Joe Biden to run as his vice-presidential candidate.|
|August 23||10.3/19||Lowest rating for a primetime telecast since 1988 Summer Olympics. The victory by the "Redeem Team" over Spain is part of late night coverage and is the only event broadcast live by all affiliates in all time zones.; NBC kicked off the day's coverage with the US Women winning gold in Basketball.|
|First number is for closing ceremony; second number is for Beijing Closing Party, a separate program which followed immediately.; The closing ceremony coverage included the US Men's volleyball team winning gold.|
- Bob Costas (primetime)
- Jim Lampley (daytime)
- Mary Carillo (late night)
- Alex Flanagan (CNBC/USA)
- Matt Vasgersian (USA)
- Melissa Stark (MSNBC)
- Bill Patrick (MSNBC)
- Fred Roggin (CNBC)
- Lindsay Czarniak (Oxygen)
*These announcers were to call the action from the NBC studios in New York City rather from onsite in Beijing
2008 Sportsdesk reporters
- Alan Abrahamson
- Peter Alexander
- Lindsay Czarniak
- Julie Foudy
- Lester Holt
- Eyee Hsu
- Nancy Snyderman
- Lindsay Soto
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NBC has made three DVDs available related to the 2008 Summer Olympics. One covers the opening ceremony, another covers the highlights from the entire competition, and the final is a retrospective of Michael Phelps' record-setting Olympic career in swimming. They are produced by the Ten Mayflower production company are available online at NBCDVD.com. The DVDs are available for retail sale at Wal-Mart.
- "NBC's planned Olympic coverage, on TV and online". USA Today. July 10, 2008. Retrieved 29 December 2008.
- Johnson, Greg (2008-08-12). "Michael 'Prime-Time' Phelps helps NBC to drive ratings". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2008-08-14.
- Johnson, Greg (2008-08-12). "NBC proud as a peacock over Olympic numbers". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 17 August 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-14.
- Hibberd, James (2008-08-19). "Weekly ratings: Olympics crush competitors". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2008-08-27.
- Public relations (2008-08-26). "NBC DOMINATES THE PRIME TIME WEEK...". NBC Universal. Retrieved 2008-08-29.[dead link]
- Seidman, Robert (2008-08-26). "Nielsen Top 20: NBC Grabs All the Medals Again". TV By The Numbers. Archived from the original on 6 September 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-29.
- Maffei, Jim (2008-08-29). "Time to say Ello". North County Times (San Diego County, California). Retrieved 2008-08-29.
- "NBC's big Beijing Crew is ready to go". Sports Business News. July 17, 2008. Archived from the original on 5 January 2009. Retrieved 29 December 2008.