NBC today kicks off its most ambitious Olympics coverage ever in Sochi, airing the Winter Games across NBC, NBC Sports Network, USA, MSNBC, and CNBC (Curling, Nothing But Curling). Its planned 1,539 hours of coverage outstrips its Vancouver and Torino coverage combined, and Kantar Media has forecast NBC’s Sochi-palooza will result in a whopping 5,500 minutes of Olympics TV ad time. The Sochi Olympics also are expected to be real barn-burner, ratings-wise — but for reasons that might unravel NBC’s larger Games Goals. Security concerns – the big story so far in Sochi — are expected to drive up ratings, as some viewers tune in to see if anything bad happens. “If anything, the prospect of a terrorist event, the controversy of [Russia's] anti-gay laws – those things in an odd way have increased awareness and interest in those games,” Bob Costas, NBC’s primetime Olympics host, acknowledged to reporters during a recent news conference. He added, “Obviously, we have our fingers crossed that nothing happens.”
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That kind of Must See TV, however, may not mesh up with NBC’s long-held belief the Olympics are the perfect platform off of which to promote, and launch, new programming. The broadcast network plans to premiere two new primetime comedies – About A Boy and Growing Up Fisher – following Olympics coverage on Saturday, February 22, and the Closing Ceremony on Sunday, February 23, respectively. But by far NBC’s biggest play will be its debut of its Jimmy Fallon-hosted Tonight Show, making its much-ballyhooed return to New York City. Fallon will debut as host immediatly after Games coverage during NBC’s second week of Sochi coverage: The first week of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon will air at midnight; on Monday, February 24, it moves back to the franchise’s earlier, regular timeslot, followed by the premiere of Late Show With Seth Meyers. According to outgoing Tonight Show host Jay Leno, NBC moved up its planned hand-over in order to feed Fallon the huge Olympics audience.
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