Southern California Olympics fans embrace NBC coverage increase, using technology to dive into games

Various scenes from around the Thames and also security at the Olympic Park.
Various scenes from around the Thames and also security at the Olympic Park.
Daniel A. Anderson
Various scenes from around the Thames and also security at the Olympic Park.
Various scenes from around the Thames and also security at the Olympic Park.
Daniel A. Anderson
Various scenes from around the Thames and also security at the Olympic Park.
NBC's increased Olympics coverage has Southland fans ready to devour all the offerings on TV, cable, cell phones, and iPads; 5,535 hours of coverage in all.
Paul Gilham/Getty Images
Various scenes from around the Thames and also security at the Olympic Park.
A happy Consul-General of the United Kingdom Dame Barbara Hay in her place of residence. Hay is excited for not only the Olympics that are being held in London but the legacy they hope they will leave behind after the games are done.
Andres Aguila/KPCC

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This segment is part of KPCC’s series “L.A. To London,” which will be exploring local connections to the 2012 Summer Olympics. View the series and follow it on Twitter at #latolondon.

The Los Angeles area is the second largest media market in the country, so NBC is counting on lots of Southland residents to watch the Olympics. The network’s delivering coverage in the United States in more ways than ever before to satisfy Olympics fans' craving.

The most traditional viewing may be for the opening ceremonies: staring at a big screen TV while sipping a beer at a sports bar, or having friends over for a potluck. There are exclusive Los Angeles parties, though, and none more so than at a Hancock Park house that flies the British flag out front.

British consul general in Los Angeles Barbara Hay is opening her official residence, a 1920s-era mansion with a pool and garden, for an invite-only party. She’ll serve Yorkshire pudding and offer the opening ceremony on four 55-inch TVs for guests to watch her country’s crowning sports moment.

"Let people get their working day and their working week over and then come here and get maybe 250 of our good friends into the garden; watch the opening ceremony, because I think there will be a delayed transmission," she said.

Even the British consul general has to watch the delayed feed of the London Olympics.

"All of this is being very carefully choreographed by the broadcasters who have the contracts to film and broadcast the games, so I don’t get any special privileges, I’m afraid," Hay said, adding that she "doesn't mind."

So, no special privileges for Brits in the U.S., even if they’re consuls general, according to NBC Vice President Christopher McCloskey. That’s because the network’s serving up a D-Day-like onslaught of coverage.

"There will be coverage airing on NBC, NBC Sports Network, MSNBC, CNBC, Bravo, Telemundo, NBCOlympics.com; two specialty channels that are made available to cable, satellite and telco companies; the first-ever 3D channel," McCloskey listed.

And that's supplemented by NBC’s two mobile apps — one streaming all Olympics events for cable TV clients. All the choices won’t overwhelm fans, McCloskey says. Research shows an insatiable hunger for more Olympics coverage.

"It wasn’t that long ago in 1996 that we had roughly 170 hours on one single channel," says McCloskey. "Now here we are, 16 years later, with 5,535 hours across broadcast, cable, Internet and mobile and tablets," he said.

This coverage seems tailor-made for Alex Lyras and Christina Xenos, who live down the street from the Hollywood Bowl. They’re ready to devour NBC’s Olympics menu from their living room.

"We call it the command center," Xenos says, referencing a room with one TV, three MacBook laptops, an iPad and two cell phones in front of her. Lyras holds up a $20 laptop-to-TV chord they’ll use to supplement NBC’s nine cable channel offerings.

"For the events that you can’t get on the various channels, you can search around the Internet and get various feeds," Lyras explains. "There are feeds that come out of Europe like myP2P, which is, it covers all sports, sometimes we watch soccer games that we can’t get."

NBC doesn’t like these streaming aggregator websites. The network paid over $1 billion to be the sole broadcaster of the games in the U.S.

Sports fan Patrick Chang is another person looking outside the NBC Olympics menu to get his fix. He was left wanting way more by the network’s coverage four years ago on TV and online.

"This time I have DirecTV and they offer an international Korean package," he said. "The broadcast rights in Korea are on the SBS network and it’s included in the DirecTV Korean package."

He’s not sure if there’s any blackout of the coverage. Chang’s a big Red Sox and Miami Heat fan, but the Olympics bring out an appetite for any sport that has a team from his native Korea.

"For women’s archery finals, I stayed up until 3 a.m. Los Angeles time to watch it live in China," Chang said.

In Long Beach, Salvador Farfan has gone home to fetch old-school TV rabbit ears he needs to get the TV at his photo studio ready for Olympics-watching. He doesn’t have cable at home or at his studio, though he insists he’s not a technology rube.

Back at the studio, he takes the two long antennas with aluminum foil mittens on the ends and connects them to a sleek TV set. "This is much like when you and I were growing up and watching TV, somebody had to get up back and jiggle the ears," he said.

He has an iPad too. And he speaks Spanish, so he’ll also tune in to NBC-owned Telemundo for soccer. "Obviously there’s the stereotypical commentator yelling and screaming, goooal," Farfan said.

From Long Beach to Hancock Park and throughout Southern California, Olympic fans are about to settle in for a sedentary marathon. Let the viewing games begin.

See also: Where to watch the Olympics in LA