NEW YORK - With 12 events debuting at the winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, NBC said on Tuesday it would begin prime-time network coverage a day prior to the opening ceremonies, on Feb. 6, 2014, for the first time in its Olympics history.
Russian and Olympics officials scheduled the extra day of events so that the games could end, as they traditionally do, on a Sunday, NBC officials said. The events in the first night of prime time coverage include team figure skating and slope-style snowboarding.
NBC officials briefed journalists on the Olympics plans on Tuesday with one year to go before the event, saying construction on the venues is progressing rapidly and they have not been informed of the content of the opening ceremonies.
The network said it would stick to the same formula as London in which it streamed each event live and then packaged the best events for NBC prime time coverage. There is a nine-hour time difference between Sochi and the east coast TV markets.
Mark Lazarus, chairman of the NBC Sports Group, said he expects the Sochi Olympics - the first one negotiated by Comcast Corp., of Philadelphia, which owns a controlling 51 percent of NBCUniversal - to be profitable. "This will be a very good moment for the company," Lazarus said during the press briefing at 30 Rock. NBC, then managed by General Electric, lost about $200 million on its last winter Olympics, partly because of the weak economy in 2010.
NBC will televise live the U.S. hockey and curling competitions. The National Hockey League has not said yet whether NHL players will compete in the Olympics but Lazarus said he's confident that they will participate. A persistent issue is which country teams the NHL players will join and play for.
NBC executive John Miller said there would be a huge promotion for the Sochi Olympics with advertising reaching each American the equivalent of 25 times over the next year.