Bell in the NBC control room at the London Olympics (NBC)
(ATR) From the opening tee shot to the final putt, NBC and cable partner Golf Channel will team to deliver nearly 300 hours of golf programming from the Rio Olympics.
NBC Olympics executive producer Jim Bell tells Around the Rings
that the final holes to determine golf’s first Olympic medalists in 112 years will be shown live on the NBC network.
“I think that is fair to say – I feel comfortable saying that will be the case,” Bell told ATR on the network's live coverage of the finish to the men’s and women’s tournaments.
While live golf competition will be shown in its entirety on Golf Channel, NBC will offer live look-ins, highlights and updates throughout the Games.
“If there is some compelling action with some familiar faces, you could see some golf action airing [simultaneously] on both the Golf Channel and NBC,” Bell said.
Adding to the colossal production, NBC is also responsible for producing golf’s world feed, as assigned by Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS). “People on that team will be [working] with Yiannis providing the world feed,” Bell said referring to OBS chief Yiannis Exarchos. “We have quite a bit of confidence in their ability to pull it off.”
Golf, like all Rio Olympic events, will also be accessible in the U.S. via live stream on NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports Live Extra app.
Golf Channel, established in 1995 and owned by the NBC Sports Group division of NBC Universal, will feature more than 130 live hours of Olympic programming, including in-depth analysis, previewing and recapping competition and complete live coverage of the men’s and women’s tournaments.
“Golf is easily among the most widely popular sports around the world in terms of its reach and here in the United States the fact that there is an entire channel dedicated to it speaks to its popularity, power and prestige,” Bell said.
The men’s four-round, stroke play tournament will be contested at Rio’s Reserva de Marapendi golf course, Aug. 11-14, while the women;s competition runs Aug. 17-20. Sixty men and sixty women will compete for medals at the recently completed Gil Hanse-designed course.
Despite a small group of pros opting to skip the Rio tournament including Australia’s Adam
Rio's Olympic golf course (Getty Images)
Scott, South Africa’s Charl Swartzel and Fiji’s Vijay Singh, Bell believes golf at the Olympics has potential to make a dramatic impact.
“I’m thrilled that it is part of the Games and the fact that the Majors [tournaments] in the sport have all granted exemptions to the winner of the Olympic competition speaks to how important this is going to be,” he said.
The Olympic tournament in Rio is just one highlight of NBC’s unprecedented season of extensive golf coverage also including the ongoing Players Championship in Florida, the British Open in July, PGA TOUR's FedExCup Playoffs, and finally, the Ryder Cup in early October.
On NBC’s plans for the Olympic golf tournament, Bell said: “It will be treated as
Bell and NBC host Costas at Christ the Redeemer statue during a recent Rio visit (NBC)
big as any golf event is covered anywhere by anyone.”
Bell noted that NBC Golf play-by-play announcer Dan Hicks, who traditionally teams with veteran analyst Johnny Miller, will instead assume his usual NBC Olympic assignment covering swimming. The lead golf talent for Rio will be announced in the near future. The golf coverage will be presided over by longtime NBC Olympics producer and current Golf Channel executive producer Molly Solomon.
“Molly will be the captain of the ship,” Bell said. “We have worked together at every Olympics since Barcelona in ’92.”
Bell believes golf’s return to the Olympic fold at the first-ever Games to be staged in South America will conjure dramatic and indelible moments. “For the many golf fans out there, this should be a great celebration in Rio,” he said.
Bell, who will serve as NBC’s executive producer for a third successive Olympics, will once again collaborate editorially with the network’s veteran Olympic host Bob Costas. Costas will be anchoring NBC’s primetime Olympic coverage for a U.S. record 11th time, dating back to 1992.
“For a quarter-century, Bob has been NBC’s pilot of primetime at the Olympics, and over that span, the scope of our coverage has constantly evolved, with Rio set to become the most live event in U.S. television history," Bell added.
Reported by Brian Pinelli
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