NBC will carry Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony live in unique morning broadcast
By Matt Collins Article may include affiliate links
NBC will carry the opening ceremonies of the delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympics live in the U.S.
The ceremony is slated to air July 23, 2021, 8 p.m. Tokyo time, which is 7 a.m. eastern time.
NBC is planning to take network air at 6:55 a.m. eastern that day and live across the country. This will cut local news short by five minutes in most east coast markets.
The central and mountain time zones will also lose part of local news in most cities.
The network will then air a special edition of “Today” at 11 a.m. eastern when the opening ceremony wraps, running until 1 p.m. eastern, which will cover local news in many markets as well.
There will then be daytime coverage from 1 to 4 p.m. eastern.
NBC will air the opening ceremony again from 7:30 p.m. to midnight eastern and again 12:35 a.m. to 5 a.m. early the next morning.
This will mark the first time that NBC will carry the opening ceremony live outside of primetime and pre-empt “Today” for coverage.
Both “Today” and “NBC Nightly News” typically have on site presence in the host city during the games and days leading up to them, though the time on the ground has been cut back in recent years.
In the past networks typically opted to carry the opening ceremony and competitive event coverage on tape delay if the location of the games meant many events would take place during, for example, early morning hours, the afternoon or late night, in most of the U.S.
There have also been years where the opening ceremony was not only taped delayed, but edited to omit certain portions of the program.
Some years have seen all events airing on tape delay, a move criticized by some, when there was an extreme time difference.
During some years NBC has streamed events live but required users to authenticate with an existing pay TV login to watch — whereas primetime coverage is available for free over the air.
NBC has also taken heat for shuttling competition that doesn’t attract as many viewers to tape delay or its sister networks.
Some years, depending on time zones, “Nightly News” would report competition results ahead of primetime tape delayed coverage — often having its anchor only read the results with the disclaimer that viewers should mute their TVs if they didn’t want spoilers.
The 2020 Olympics were originally scheduled for the summer of 2020, but were postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
While the event will take place in 2021, the International Olympic Committee will continue to refer to the games with the “2020” label for purposes of marketing and record keeping.
Meanwhile, many are questioning if the decision to move forward with the games in 2021 while the pandemic continues, but the IOC has said it plans to move forward with enhanced safety precautions.
Most of the measures announced have involved how athletes will be protected — but there has not been any decision made yet about spectators.