NBC set to begin coverage of 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy

NBC's coverage of the 2006 Winter Olympics kicks off Friday, February 10, with a broadcast of the opening ceremony in Torino, Italy. The opening ceremony will feature 2,500 athletes from 80 countries marching in the Parade of Nations. The US delegation will follow Spain and South Africa in the parade and will be led by five-time Olympian and 2002 gold medalist, Chris Witty. They'll gather in the Olympic Stadium to light the spectacular Olympic Cauldron in a colorful and festive gala that should set an energetic tone for the 17-day sporting event.

"The Olympic opening ceremony is the most important event for the vast majority of the athletes here. Most won't come close to a medal, and for them, this is the pinnacle of their athletic careers," said NBC Universal Sports & Olympics chairman Dick Ebersol in a statement.

Bob Costas and Brian Williams will host the prime-time proceedings on NBC, beginning at 8 p.m. EST, 5 p.m. PST. Also in Italy for coverage will be Today cohosts Matt Lauer and Katie Couric.

NBC will spread the coverage of all the events throughout their various outlets, namely MSNBC, CNBC, USA Network, and Universal HD. The network will also provide thorough coverage online at MSNBC.com, and they'll make highlights available to mobile phone users who subscribe to MobiTV.

Media Life magazine reported today that NBC had accomplished their stated goal of $900 million in ad sales for the sporting event. Despite unease that NBC's tarnished image might have hurt ad buys, media buyers report that almost all ad space for the two-week event is sold out. They attribute some of that to NBC's resurgent Thursdays, which feature the new hit My Name Is Earl and the cult show The Office.

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