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Highlights from NBC's Olympic coverage

Posted: Friday August 27, 2004 1:27AM; Updated: Friday August 27, 2004 3:16AM
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(AP) -- A look at NBC's coverage of the Summer Olympics from Athens:

RATINGS: Olympic viewership is starting to slip in the games' second week, but only a little. Wednesday's prime time, featuring Rulon Gardner's exit and a thrilling U.S. men's volleyball contest against Greece, was seen by an average of 24.3 million viewers, below the Olympic average of 25.9 million. But NBC continues to run comfortably ahead of Sydney's 2000 Games.

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HIGHLIGHT: Emotional moments. We saw Sydney hero Rulon Gardner, crying as he removed his sneakers and left them on the mat -- a traditional signal of retirement -- after winning a bronze medal in Greco-Roman wrestling. NBC also gave Fani Halkia, the Greek gold medalist in hurdling, her due by showing her medal ceremony before a pride-filled crowd. These moments are what make the Olympics special.

LOWLIGHT: NBC couldn't bear to show more than a snippet of the match Gardner lost and a minute of his bronze medal-winning match in prime time. We've got this straight now: Sweaty, grappling men, no; sweaty, volleyball-playing women in bikinis, yes.

LATE SHOW: And while we're second-guessing production decisions -- hey, it's what we're paid for -- what did Tom Brokaw do to deserve an 11:44 p.m. time slot for his fine report on an Olympics staged in German prison camps in Poland during World War II? Was it deemed a turnoff for young viewers? While it's good NBC recognized the importance of Israel's first gold medal, running the story during the end credits just before midnight limited the exposure.

TRIATHLON: Triathlon announcer Siri Lindley was audibly disappointed when her former training partner, Australian Loretta Harrop, was passed near the end and had to settle for a silver medal. NBC had focused on Harrop, with a sketch on her brother Luke, a fellow triathlete who was killed in a car accident. After keeping the tissue factor to a minimum this Olympics, NBC couldn't resist this one. The sound effects of children playing behind a still picture of Harrop and her brother were designed to open the waterworks.

QUOTE: "That's a tough man breaking down right here." -- wrestling announcer Len Berman.

WHEN TO WATCH FRIDAY (TIMES PDT, SUBJECT TO CHANGE): NBC (12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.), men's basketball semifinal, women's 10,000 meter final, equestrian, canoeing; NBC (8 p.m. to midnight), men's pole vault, 110 meter hurdles, women's long jump, javelin and 4x100 relay, diving, synchronized swimming; NBC (12:35 a.m. to 2 a.m.), men's volleyball, cycling, wrestling; MSNBC (11 p.m. Thursday a.m to 4 a.m. Friday), 50 kilometer walk, wrestling; USA (4 a.m. to 6:30 a.m.), canoeing, women's basketball semifinal; Bravo (7 a.m. to noon), equestrian, pentathlon, handball; MSNBC (7 a.m. to 1 p.m.), men's soccer bronze medal match, women's basketball semifinal, men's water polo semifinal, men's field hockey bronze medal match; taekwondo; CNBC (2 p.m. to 5 p.m.), boxing semifinals; Bravo (5 p.m. to 8 p.m., midnight to 1 a.m.), men's basketball semifinal, men's volleyball semifinal, rhythmic gymnastics, men's field hockey final; Telemundo (1 p.m. to 8 p.m.), boxing, soccer, track & field.

Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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