New York — NBC has almost made a viewer's guide to the Olympics an obsolete idea.
The network is making a nearly absurd 3,600 hours of coverage from the Beijing games available next month on the broadcast network, its cable partners, high-definition channels and on NBCOlympics.com. Add in video on demand and fans can almost create their own unique viewing experience.
Gone are the days when NBC can completely dictate what people know about the Olympics through its choices for prime-time coverage.
The games are being shown from Aug. 6-24. Nearly two-thirds of NBC Universal's coverage, more than 2,200 hours of live competition, will be streamed via the network's Web site. With a mouse click, computer users can switch from a women's field hockey game to judo to archery to badminton. Instead of announcers, these events will be followed by live bloggers whose analysis can be read alongside the video.
Computer users also will have access to statistics, results, athlete profiles and fantasy league-type games.
The plans are bold, particularly considering NBC's experience streaming live Olympics events is limited to one hockey game.
But if it works, American fans will be able to learn about competitions they previously only saw in brief television highlights, if at all.
The caveat is online coverage will still play second fiddle to television. NBCOlympics.com will simulcast some events that are being shown live on TV, but will not show any events that are being taped for later use on NBC's prime-time lineup.