NBC Exec: Olympics ‘stalwarts of the shared American experience’

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By Alex Weprin Comment

NBC Olympics production chief (and “Today” EP) Jim Bell talks to Vanity Fair about the upcoming games. Bell talks about big stories for thew games, tape delays, and a subject that he has been dealing with at his other job, ratings:

How much of a concern are television ratings going into the Olympics, especially knowing how much viewing habits have changed in the past few years? Do you have a different overall goal or marker for NBC’s performance?

We’re always focused on ratings and even with shifts in viewing habits, there is still a tremendous appetite for big events, like the Olympics and the Super Bowl. These are stalwarts of the shared American experience and will be for a very long time. The Olympics are unique because they dominate the country’s attention for more than two weeks and are among the most-watched events of all time. Beijing was seen by 215 million viewers in 2008.