The opening ceremony for the Tokyo Olympics is six weeks away but NBC's coverage of the upcoming Games shifts into high gear beginning this weekend.
NBC will present 13 nights of primetime coverage of U.S. trials in four sports over the next two weeks, beginning Saturday with the diving trials. The network's coverage will also include swimming, track & field and gymnastics.
Trials coverage is an important part of NBC's preparations for the Olympics. There will be over 83 hours on NBC, NBCSN, Olympic Channel, Peacock, and digital platforms with more than 50 in prime time.
“We’re always trying to bring more coverage of these great athletes and their incredible stories to the audience. This opportunity to introduce those storylines right now is really great for us,” said Joe Gesue the senior vice president of production for NBC Olympics.
Swimming and track & field will get the most coverage hours with both trials lasting eight days. Swimming starts Sunday in Omaha, Nebraska, with track scheduled to begin on June 18 in Eugene, Oregon.
The most anticipated trials for most casual Olympics viewers will be in gymnastics, which starts June 24. The final night of the women's competition, headlined by Simone Biles, will be June 27.
Gesue said the trials coverage helps announcers and production teams because the competition schedules mirror the order of events in Tokyo. He noted the trials help test out some of the production elements that will be used during the Olympics.
“We want to give our production and announce teams the tools they need. We're getting better at data analysis and some of the cameras continue to improve,” he said. “The core, though, remains storytelling and bringing the human drama.”
The trials will also be one of the final opportunities for NBC's Olympics research department and features units to compile things they will be utilizing during Tokyo, including profiling surprise qualifiers.