The 2010 Winter Olympics will be broadcast on seven NBC channels, including a new online streaming channel, Dick Ebersol told a Vancouver business audience Monday.
But while the chairman of NBC Sports was not worried about how Vancouver and British Columbia will come across on television during the Games, he was more than a little nervous last July when he discovered that Pyeonchang was within three IOC votes of winning the right to host Olympics.
That was because a month earlier Ebersol had convinced NBC to bid a record $820 million US for the broadcast rights to the 2010 Games on the expectation that Vancouver would be hosting them. NBCs parent company, General Electric, has also put up $200 million to become an official Olympic sponsor.
Ebersol, who has produced eight Olympic broadcasts, said Vancouver and British Columbia would look spectacular on television because of their physical beauty and because the broadcaster isnt interested in showing anything but spectacular shots.
"I hate to say this, because its going to break somebodys heart, but small town or big town, if youve got blemishes, chances are we wont be there," he said in response to a question about how small towns in B.C. could attract an NBC film crew.
As an example of what NBC can do for a region, Ebersol showed the networks introduction to the Sydney Olympics of 2000. The clip, about six minutes long, was a video postcard of Australia capturing some of the countrys history, its culture, its ties to the United States and the importance of sport.
The Australian tourism commission said the Emmy award-winning introduction, and NBCs coverage of the Sydney Olympics, was the "greatest single tool for tourism they had ever had," according to Ebersol.
Ebersol said NBC has the biggest team at the Olympics. More than 3,000 NBC staff will be at the Athens Games this summer; about 2,000 people will be in Vancouver and Whistler for the 2010 Olympics. Advance crews will start filming in B.C. following the Torino Olympics in 2006.
Despite the growing number of channels NBC has and the evolution of the Internet, NBC will still show some events on a tape-delayed basis in 2010. Ebersol said figure skating, hockey, alpine skiing and speed skating are the winter Olympic sports that draw the largest audiences. While hockey and figure skating usually take place in the evenings during "prime time", alpine skiing and speed skating may be taped during the day and broadcast in the evening on the primary NBC channel.
Cross-country skiing and other events will likely be shown live on some of the secondary channels in 2010.