By Shirley Brady The NBC Universal-owned networks will carry 1,210 hours of the XXVIII Olympiad in Athens, Greece, over a jam-packed, around-the-clock schedule from August 13 to 29, marking the most intensive and in-depth Olympics broadcast in history. For the first time, viewers can watch every Olympic sport. The coverage also boasts the first Spanish-language Olympics coverage for U.S. viewers (on Telemundo) and the first high-definition coverage of the Summer Games, with 400 HD hours planned for NBC. In addition to creating local ad sales opportunities, the Summer Games should boost the sale of HDTV sets with the help of a joint promotion from cable operators and the CTAM. That promotion, which started July 1 and continues through the end of this month, offers customers who buy select Panasonic HDTV sets or monitors and who sign up for digital cable with HD service from participating companies two $50 certificates that can be applied to the cost of their cable service. The Olympics partnership is a product of the industry’s Only Cable Can initiative; participating companies in the promotion include Comcast, Adelphia, Cox, Charter, Insight, Cablevision, Cable One, Bright House Networks, Mediacom and Time Warner Cable. NBC is offering an eight-hour looped hi-def feed of the Olympics. Local cable systems will need a retransmission consent deal with their local NBC affiliate to carry that feed. (NBC Cable had approached cable operators to help underwrite the cost of offering the Summer Games in hi-def, but MSOs rejected the offer.) Cable subscribers in markets where there is no local agreement will need an antenna to receive NBC’s over-the-air HDTV broadcasts of the Olympics. While many marquee events such as track and field and gymnastics will be offered as delayed telecasts in prime time, a minimum of 300 hours of live coverage is scheduled. Although the event officially starts with the opening ceremony on Friday, Aug. 13, Olympic competition begins with the U.S. women’s soccer team playing Greece on Wed., Aug. 11, televised live on MSNBC. (The closing ceremony on Sunday, Aug. 29, will be carried on NBC.) NBC’s online home of the Summer Games (NBCOlympics.com) will carry the complete schedule of events running on NBC, Telemundo, USA, MSNBC, CNBC and Bravo along with information on the HD feed. NBC Cable began to build buzz for the Summer Games with USA Network’s coverage of the U.S. Olympic Team Trials, which began in May. As the cable home of the U.S. Olympic Team, USA will cover the U.S. Olympic Trials through 2012. USA will carry 49 hours of the ’04 Summer Games, including live morning coverage on the East Coast of events (such as basketball, cycling and tennis) taking place in the afternoon and evening in Greece. Viewers needing a break from the athletics can switch over to Lifetime, which is counterprogramming with its "TV Movie Gold" series running Aug. 13 to 30. Network premieres include Run for the Dream: The Gail Devers Story (Aug. 13) and Lifetime Original Movie Miracle Run (Aug. 9), starring Mary-Louise Parker and Aidan Quinn in the true story of a single mother’s devotion to her autistic twin sons.

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