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Olympic Sold

Amid the glitz and glamour of the Olympic Games, torches will pass, dramas will unfold and heroes will emerge. And no moment will escape the watchful eye of NBC. With over 440 hours of coverage beaming home from Down Under, the Peacock is promising "The Complete Olympics." But will we be watching?

NBC's coverage of the Sydney Games, which began this week on sister-network MSNBC, kicks into full swing with tonight's opening ceremonies. Don't look for Muhammad Ali in the torch parade, but keep your eyes peeled for returning favorites like Michael Johnson and Dominique Dawes. And whatever you do, stay tuned. NBC is counting on it.

With exclusive stateside broadcasting rights registering in the billions, the Olympics are big business. Having handled the last three summer Games, NBC hopes to improve upon the Atlanta experience with twice the airtime, new onscreen technology, and Internet updates.

And what about the athletes? No Olympics would be complete without its share of stars, and NBC's Biography-style dramatizations are sure to bring us some fresh faces. Prepare for a fortnight of features fit to rival any Lifetime movie marathon.

In the pre-cable era, the tradeoffs between perennial draws (track, gymnastics, swimming) and their low-profile counterparts (archery, judo, badminton) left many events out of the limelight. Today, the TV troika responsible for Sydney (NBC, CNBC, & MSNBC) ensures there'll be airtime to spare.

But will we bother to tune in? The real-time info accessibility of the Internet presents a major hurdle. Facing significant tape delays, NBC may struggle to maintain suspense in highly publicized events. But the bottom line is better for the viewer: the Sydney Games promise more coverage and greater breadth. And the real bonus? Kerri Strug's at home this summer.


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