NBC to Air Paralympic Coverage in Prime Time for First Time

NBC will also air the U.S. Paralympic Team Trials on June 27

Roderick Townsend performs in the men's long jump final at the USA Track & Field Indoor Championships, Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019, in New York.
AP Photo/Julio Cortez

NBC will air coverage of the Paralympics during prime time for the first time this summer.

NBCUniversal announced Wednesday that 1,200 hours of programming will air across NBC's linear and digital channels from the Summer Paralympic Games in Tokyo. That includes more than 200 hours on NBC, NBCSN and the Olympic Channel.

NBC Olympics President Gary Zenkel said he expects NBC's prime time coverage from the Paralympics to total four hours over multiple nights.

“It’s unreal and incredible. I'm so ecstatic,” said 13-time Paralympic gold medalist Jessica Long, who is looking to compete in her fifth Games in swimming. “It’s time to show the world the diversity in disability and challenges we face, but also how incredible we are. It is nice being showcased for our work and elite-ness.”

Following a meeting of the International Olympic Committee’s executive board, president Thomas Bach says the Tokyo Olympics will proceed with strict COVID measures.

The Games are scheduled to begin in six months after being postponed last year because of the pandemic.

Zenkel said the core planning and hours were decided before the postponement but the extra time has allowed the network to find opportunities to expand coverage.

“We will be able to bring NBC’s athlete profiles and stories to prime time. Certainly competition will be the foundation but the stories are compelling and form the fabric of coverage,” Zenkel said.

NBCSN will air 12 hours daily, including live coverage of the Aug. 24 Opening Ceremony and the Closing Ceremony on Sept. 5. During the Rio Games in 2016, NBCSN aired nine hours most days and had more than 70 hours of total coverage.

With just six months to go before the delayed 2020 Olympics is scheduled to open in Tokyo, organizers are denying reports of Japan shuttering the games for good.

Coverage will also be streamed on Peacock, NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports app. Additional programming details will be announced over the next six months.

NBC will also air the U.S. Paralympic Team Trials on June 27.

“NBCUniversal’s commitment to the coverage and promotion of the Tokyo Paralympic Games and U.S. Paralympic Team is truly something to celebrate,” U.S. Olympic Paralympic Committee CEO Sarah Hirshland said in a statement. “This is a great reflection of our combined pledge to creating a path to parity for the Paralympic Movement while bringing the incredible feats of our Para athletes into more American homes than ever before.”

Roderick Townsend, who won gold medals in the long jump and the high jump at the Rio Games, said the timing of the announcement serves as more momentum with Los Angeles hosting the Games in 2028.

“So many people have helped pave the way for where we are now. After London in 2012 we saw how much of an impact it had in the United Kingdom,” he said. “This could have a huge impact for the future of track for when Los Angeles comes around.”

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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