HERE'S AN OLYMPIC-SIZED guarantee: The Rio Games are going to be the most-watched television event in U.S. history. More than 219 million people viewed the London Olympics—the current record for one event—but Rio offers a substantially more television-friendly climate. Why? First, there's the huge swath of established Olympic stars competing in Rio, meaning NBC's marketing efforts will be substantially easier. The bold-faced names include Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt, Gabby Douglas, Missy Franklin, Roger Federer, Serena Williams, Kerri Walsh Jennings and a plethora of NBA and WNBA stars, not to mention Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy competing in golf, which makes its Olympic return after a 112-year absence.
Then there is the advantageous time zone: Unlike London (five hours ahead of the East Coast) and Sochi (nine hours ahead), Rio is just one hour ahead of the eastern time zone. NBC says it will show more live events during this Olympics than any before. There's also Rio itself, with its visually arresting carnival of backgrounds, from beach to jungle to mountains to city.
"It gives us a backdrop unlike any we have had for an Olympics," says Jim Bell, the executive producer of NBC's Olympic coverage. "There will inevitably be some challenges when we could have multiple things happening at the same time, but coming off a Winter Olympics where the time delay was nine hours, it gave us zero opportunities to do anything live in prime time. So we are ready to embrace these challenges."
THE YEAR IN HOT TAKES
"If you want to choke Bryce Harper—and I suspect if you played with him, you might—ask him to come up the tunnel and then choke him."
—Lee Judge, Kansas City Star