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Ringing endorsement

NBC U's Turin coverage to set record

NBC Universal, convinced that Americans won’t be able to get enough of the Winter Olympics from Turin, Italy, next month, will offer a record 416 hours of TV coverage across NBC, USA, MSNBC, CNBC, NBC HD and Universal HD.

That’s a strapping 11% jump over the 375.5 hours of coverage NBC delivered four years ago — a record at the time — when the homegrown 2002 Winter Games took place in Salt Lake City.

Despite the six-hour time difference with Turin, NBC boasts that it will carry more live coverage than there has been for any other Winter Olympics. As previous reported (Daily Variety, Dec. 19), NBC has sold more than 90% of the advertising time over the course of the 17 days of the Turin Games (Feb. 10-26), racking up about $800 million toward its goal of pocketing $900 million.

NBC itself will transmit 182.5 hours of coverage, the majority of it live. NBC, bolstered by Bob Costas as primetime host, will focus on the marquee sports of figure skating, alpine skiing, speed skating, snowboarding, ski jumping and freestyle skiing.

Next in volume of Olympic programming is USA, which bills itself as the “cable home of the U.S. Olympic Team.” USA will carry 101.5 hours, including lots of coverage of the team sports of ice hockey and curling.

MSNBC also will cover hockey, carrying 24 live games. It’s planning to do 71 hours of Olympic programming. CNBC will backstop MSNBC with 61 hours of Olympic coverage, striving mightily to turn curling into a cult sport.

More high-definition telecasts are on tap than ever before in Olympic TV history, simulcast on NBC HD. The cable high-def events will be simulcast on 24/7 cable net Universal HD.

NBC-owned stations and affiliates will get “Olympic Zone,” a half-hour daily series leading into primetime that will allow the stations a long segment within each episode to focus on Olympic athletes from their communities, reported by local anchors.

NBCOlympics.com will provide live results, TV listings, breaking news and feature stories.

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