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NBC’s Olympic Coverage Will Be Distributed in 4K HDR, But Not Everyone Will Get To See It

Derek Walborn

For the first time in history, NBC Sports will provide coverage of the Olympics Games in 4K Ultra High Definition (UHD) with High Dynamic Range and Atmos sound. NBC’s primetime coverage of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies will also be provided in 4K HDR, meaning that this year’s Summer Games content will be the most immersive yet in Olympics broadcasting history.

NBC’s application of UHD resolution for the games is a no-brainer given the widespread adoption of the format and the fact that it has become the new gold standard for live sports broadcasts. However, there’s a catch.

While NBCUniversal will be providing streams of the Tokyo Games in these formats, it will ultimately be up the various cable, satellite, and streaming distributors whether or not 4K UHD resolution will make it to viewers’ screens. In the past, 4K content offered by NBCU has been available on Comcast and DirecTV.

To-date, fuboTV has been the only Live TV Streaming Service to offer 4K streaming of live sports directly from their interface. In past years, they have offered Premier League action in 4K, which was available on NBC Sports Network. While YouTube TV has teased 4K content on their service, that has yet to come.

“The Olympics have been a consistent driver of technological advancements, and even with the challenges of the past year, Tokyo will be no different,” said NBC Olympics president Gary Zenkel. “With the rich cultural backdrop of Tokyo combined with the world-class competition of the Olympics, we’re excited to provide the American audience a look at the Games and, for the first time, the live Olympics primetime show with this impressive new 4K HDR technology.”

In spite of what will likely be spotty 4K offerings, this is still good news for those disappointed by the earlier revelation that Peacock, NBCUniversal’s streaming platform, would not be presenting its much-hyped, exclusive Olympic coverage in 4K.

Peacock

Peacock is a subscription video streaming service from NBCUniversal that gives access to up to 15,000 hours of content including original shows, blockbuster movies, and classic television series.

It will include news, entertainment, sports, late-night, and reality from various NBCU properties including NBC, Bravo, and E!.

Just like other streaming services, Peacock will have their own original series including reboots of Save By The Bell, Punky Brewster, and Battlestar Galactica. They also have shows like Rutherford Falls (Ed Helms), Dr. Death (Alec Baldwin), and a behind-the-scenes docs-series about Saturday Night Live.

The company has acquired the rights to many classic shows like the entire Dick Wolf library including Law & Order and Chicago Fire, Parks and Recreation, and The Office.

The service will also feature blockbusters and critically-acclaimed films from Universal Pictures, Focus Features, DreamWorks Animation, Illumination and content acquired from Hollywood’s biggest studios.

Peacock was launched a bit half-baked with the expectation that Olympic coverage would provide all the content needed to attract an audience to the platform. However, the postponement of the 2020 Games due to the COVID-19 pandemic left the platform floundering with little to offer in its absence.

Peacock’s lack of 4K content might have been understandable if the service launched in tandem with the Tokyo Olympics, but NBCUniversal has had a year to bolster their service and provide a top-of-the-line experience for subscribers.

As the event uneasily creeps closer and Japanese citizens continue to voice their displeasure at hosting the Games while Tokyo is still in the midst of an uncontrollable wave of coronavirus infections, perhaps the company felt that it had already dropped too many eggs into the Olympic basket and opted for a this-is-what-you-get approach in regard to Peacock’s on-air presentation.

NBCUniversal is promising 7,000 hours of Olympic coverage across its various streaming, on-air, and online platforms, and has partnered with Twitch to bring exclusive content to that online streaming platform.

The opening ceremonies of the Tokyo Summer Olympic Games are set to get underway on the morning of July 23, though some competition will be presented three days earlier on the networks of NBCUniversal.

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