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Rick Cordella, senior vice president and general manager of digital media for NBC Sports, talks the network's coverage of the 2016 Olympic Games. Credit: Kevin Lisota.
Rick Cordella, senior vice president and general manager of digital media for NBC Sports, talks the network’s coverage of the 2016 Olympic Games. Credit: Kevin Lisota.

Every four years like clockwork, fans of the Olympics grumble about their favorite events not getting enough coverage. That won’t be the case this year.

NBC will offer 6,700 hours of coverage of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Approximately 4,500 of those hours, more than 75 percent of content, will be streamed online, Rick Cordella, senior vice president and general manager of digital media for NBC Sports Group said today at the GeekWire Sports Tech Summit. NBC will offer multiple streams during an event; for example, viewers will have the option of switching between multiple apparatuses during gymnastic events.

“If there is competition happening we want to bring it you,” Cordella said.

NBC Rio

NBC also plans to offer 85 hours of sports programming in virtual reality. It’s the first time Olympics programming will be shown in VR.

Footage will include the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, men’s basketball — including the semifinals and final — gymnastics, track and field, beach volleyball, diving, boxing, and fencing, as well as highlight packages of those sports.

All of it will be presented on delay, from Aug. 6, the day after the Opening Ceremony, through Aug. 22, the day after the Games conclude.

NBC Sports previously announced that it was launching a streaming network in time for the Olympics. Called Playmaker Media, the service is built on technology that NBC Sports Digital already uses to stream events like the Super Bowl, Stanley Cup Finals, and more.

It may seem like streaming has been around forever, but it is still very new for the Olympics. The 2012 Olympics in London represented the first time NBC streamed Olympic events, and the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi was the first time events could be watched on tablets.

Approximately 70 percent of viewers who live streamed Olympic events in 2012 were live streaming for the first time, Cordella said. Viewers expected the same quality as the TV broadcast at all times, and that doesn’t always happen with a live stream. But Cordella said NBC has refined its streaming since then, and it is closer to TV quality thanks in part to some of the companies NBC works with, like Microsoft Azure and Adobe Primetime.

“This is their biggest event as well, they want to come off being seen as innovative and pulling it off,” Cordella said.

NBC is turning to partners to help broaden its viewer base for the Olympics. It is working with Snapchat to drum up viewership among younger viewers. NBC is also working with BuzzFeed, which it invested more than $200 million in last year, to produce content for social media.

“It’s almost like bait we are throwing out there, and we hope to sort of draw someone back,” to NBC’s TV and streaming coverage, Cordella said.

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