Back in the summer of 2004, we bought an HDTV just in time for the Stanley Cup finals and for the 2004 Summer Olympics. ABC's coverage of the hockey finals in HDTV was absolutely breathtaking but NBC completely dropped the ball on their olympic coverage.
First of all, they delayed their HDTV broadcasts by 24 hours, basically forcing anyone that wanted to know results in any semblance of real time to watch the broadcast in standard-definition. They did a completely different production for their Summer Olympics HDTV coverage -- different graphics, different cuts of the action, and B-list commentators. To top it all off, the compression they used was horrible meaning that anything with fast motion -- say, for example just about every sport in the Summer Games -- had massive blocking and pixelation in the feed. What a disappointment.
Now, with the Torino games a month away, NBC has finally announced they are committed to getting their HDTV broadcast right this time.
For the first time, Olympic HD viewers will see a simulcast of the analog broadcast -- same time, same broadcasters, same graphics -- but in High Definition and in 5.1 surround sound. Figure skating, hockey, long and short track speed skating, ski jumping, freestyle aerials and moguls, and the Opening and Closing Ceremonies will all be broadcast in 1080i high definition because those venues in Torino are wired for high definition coverage by the host broadcaster. From those venues where the host broadcaster is unable to provide a high definition signal, a 16:9 signal will be upconverted by NBC.
Since USA, MSNBC and CNBC do not have high definition platforms, Universal HD will carry a live simulcast of much of the cable coverage, featuring Olympic hockey like it has never been seen before. And if that wasn't enough, all Team USA hockey games and the gold medal games, both men's and women's, will be broadcast commercial-free and in their entirety.