NEW YORK Start stockpiling eye drops.
NBC Universal released an Olympics television schedule Tuesday that with broadcast, cable and broadband offers more coverage of competition from Beijing than all the previous summer Olympics combined.
The company will beam out an average of 212 hours of Olympics fare each day through 12 separate sources the equivalent of eight days each day and even briefly considered licensing the Beatles song "Eight Days a Week" as a gimmick to promote it.
The audacious schedule will allow viewers the chance to create their own Olympic experiences at home, in the office or on mobile phones where they can find results or on-demand video, said Dick Ebersol, chairman of NBC Universal Sports and Olympics.
"The enormity of what we're doing just blows me away," Ebersol said.
It's a total of 3,600 hours of coverage. Between the 1960 Olympics in Rome through Athens four years ago, the 12 summer Olympics have totaled 2,565 hours on TV, NBC said.
The danger of flooding the Olympics zone is that attention will be drawn away from the main NBC network's prime-time coverage, still the most important for advertisers. But NBC is betting the blanket coverage will drive up interest in the event, scheduled for Aug. 8-24.
Despite a 12-hour time difference with the eastern United States, NBC and Olympics officials arranged to have several important events scheduled early in China so they can be broadcast in prime-time in the United States. NBC is betting heavily on American swimmer Michael Phelps' quest for a record haul of eight gold medals: Phelps will race live in prime-time in each of the first eight nights of NBC's prime-time broadcasts.
"He is inarguably the biggest story heading into these games," said NBC Sports spokesman Brian Walker.
Gymnastics, a traditional prime-time sport, will feature several live gold medal competitions during that choice TV time. The men's and women's marathon and beach volleyball events also will be televised live in prime-time.
The preponderance of pretaped competition increases on NBC prime-time heading into the second week. No track, other than the marathons, will be shown live on TV or streamed live.
The importance of live competition increases in the instant media world. NBC has been criticized in the past for airing long-ended events as if they were live.
With all its different platforms, NBC says three-quarters of its Olympics coverage will be presented live to viewers.
NBC's cable networks have an extensive schedule, with the company trying to give each network its own identity. The USA network will concentrate on team sports, particularly the U.S. basketball and soccer teams. MSNBC will stretch out with long-form coverage of several sports, including volleyball, wrestling, weightlifting and soccer.
CNBC will focus on boxing, while Telemundo's Spanish-language coverage will be geared toward events popular with that networks' viewers, such as soccer games involving Latin American countries.
Newly acquired Oxygen will have a daily show on gymnastics.
Between NBC and its standard cable channels, competition will be available most days for 23 and a half hours. The only Olympics-free time will be between 4:30 and 5 a.m. EDT.
NBC is also running competition on six different high-definition networks, including 24 hours a day on Universal HD. It will operate special NBC Olympic soccer and basketball channels available in about 80 million homes.
The company previously announced it would stream 2,200 hours of competition on the Internet on NBCOlympics.com, featuring 25 sports from archery to wrestling. It will simulcast some events also available on live television, but NBCOlympics.com won't show live events that are later being presented via tape delay on TV.
Although the Olympics opening ceremony isn't until Aug. 8, NBC will begin its coverage Aug. 6 with a live women's soccer match between the United States and Norway at 7:30 a.m. EDT.