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NBC to air Rio Olympics Opening Ceremony on one-hour delay

The Christ the Redeemer statue and Maracana Stadium

The Christ the Redeemer statue and Maracana Stadium are seen on July 31, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Rio 2016 will be the first Olympic Games in South America. The event will take place between August 5-21. Credit: Getty Images / Buda Mendes

The Opening Ceremony of the Olympics is a sure-fire, NFL-esque ratings grabber, even though no actual sports events are held during it.

Still, NBC understandably wants to do everything it can Friday night to maximize both viewership and showmanship.

To that end, NBC again has opted not to broadcast the ceremony live either on television or online, this time starting it on a one-hour delay at 8 p.m. Eastern Time. (And on a four-hour delay in the West.)

The idea, NBC Sports Group chairman Mark Lazarus said, is to “curate” the show to better inform viewers about all the goings-on, as well as to avoid having viewers miss anything during commercial breaks.

Beginning at 8 p.m. also is more convenient for more people on a workday than a live 7 p.m. start, meaning more potential eyeballs.

But wait, there’s more:

Last week Bloomberg reported that NBC tried an even bolder Opening Ceremony maneuver, lobbying to push the United States toward the end of the “Parade of Nations” as a way to hold onto American viewers longer.

Traditionally, national teams enter the arena in alphabetical order, according to the host’s country’s language.

In Portuguese, “Estados Unidos” comes long before the English version, “United States.”

“We have regular discussions with our partners at the IOC about everything involved in presenting the best possible Olympics coverage to our audience across the United States,” an NBC spokesman told Bloomberg.

The episode was an echo of sorts to an NBC idea of 10 years ago, one that was more about marketing than ratings.

Before the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, then-NBC Sports boss Dick Ebersol decided Torino – the name for the city that is used by Italians – sounded cooler, so voila, everyone at NBC called it Torino, then and in perpetuity.

Never mind that Americans do not call Florence “Firenze” or Rome “Roma” or Venice “Venezia” or Naples “Napoli” or Milan “Milano.”

New York Sports