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Highlights from NBC's Olympic coverage

Posted: Tuesday August 17, 2004 2:34AM; Updated: Tuesday August 17, 2004 2:34AM
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(AP) -- A look at NBC's coverage of the summer Olympic games from Athens:

RATINGS: For the first time in three nights, more viewers watched the Athens Olympics in prime-time (25.7 million) compared to the same night in Sydney (23.9 million), according to Nielsen Media Research. NBC has the chance to further pick up the pace with three nights of high-impact events, including the Michael Phelps-Ian Thorpe swimming duel and gymnastics finals. NBC estimated a total of 91 million people watched at least some of the Olympics on one of its six networks Sunday.

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HIGHLIGHT: Great camera work at the end of the U.S. men's volleyball team's loss to Italy caught some players getting into a frustrated, profane shouting match while others congratulated the victors. Viewers felt the heat of competition. In the same way, a revealing interview with American swimmer Brendan Hansen showed his anger at Japanese gold medalist Kosuke Kitajima.

LOWLIGHT: Making women's gymnastics feel like a reality TV show. "The lights are on but nobody's here in gyms and all over the world tonight," hypemeister Al Trautwig said, nearly hyperventilating. "What had to be done hopefully was done. In Russia, China and even Texas, they always knew August 15 was it." The empty seats in Athens made the "lights are on but nobody's here" line even more unfortunate.

HUH?: Gymnast Carly Patterson is "really unruffled by large crowds," said gymnastics analyst Elfi Schlegal. "In fact, she says she thrives on crowds of this size. Gets her pumped up and motivated." Even Trautwig couldn't avoid pointing out the lack of a crowd.

KEEPING SCORE: NBC's Olympics announcers have done their homework so well they occasionally forget the casual viewer. Mike Breen and Doug Collins ably explained how the U.S. basketball dream team lost to Puerto Rico, but didn't make clear what the loss meant, if anything, for the team's medal hopes. The gymnastics announcers also needed to better explain what the preliminary rounds really meant.

WHEN TO WATCH TUESDAY (TIMES EDT, SUBJECT TO CHANGE): NBC (12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.), swimming, men's beach volleyball and canoeing; NBC (8 p.m. to midnight), women's gymnastics team gold medal final, women's beach volleyball, four swimming gold medal races; NBC (12:35 a.m. to 2 a.m.), men's volleyball; MSNBC (2 a.m. to 4 p.m.), live U.S. matches in water polo, softball and women's soccer, Cuba vs. Japan baseball game; Bravo (5 a.m. to noon), tennis, equestrian and badminton; USA (3 p.m. to 5 p.m.), U.S. men's basketball team vs. Greece; Bravo (5 p.m. to 8 p.m.), tennis and fencing; CNBC (5 p.m. to 8 p.m.), boxing; Bravo (midnight to 1 a.m.), sailing and judo; Telemundo (1 a.m. to 8 p.m., 1:30 a.m. to 3:30 a.m.), men's and women's soccer and boxing.

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