The U.S. Paralympic team trials will receive unprecedented coverage this year, streaming live this week and culminating with a 90-minute highlight show on NBC.
The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee unveiled the coverage plans along with its campaign called “Show the World,” which is designed to highlight Paralympic athletes on their journey to Tokyo.
The trials in several sports begin Thursday, with the highlight show set for June 27. The Paralympics are Aug. 24-Sept. 5. NBC plans 1,200 hours of programming from Tokyo, including more than 200 on TV.
“We’ve got a really nice opportunity to showcase and celebrate something at a moment where unification is so deeply craved,” said Sarah Hirshland, the CEO of the USOPC. “It’s a window for those of us who haven’t yet been introduced to the Paralympics. It’s an opportunity to expand that, to see the incredible athleticism.”
One of Hirshland’s first moves as CEO was to change the name of the organization to add the world “Paralympic” to the USOC name.
“We’ve been trying to create a more integrated approach,” Hirshland said. “We’re over the moon with the progress we’ve made and we’re glad to see NBC match our commitment.”
In 2012, the network showed 5.5 hours of Paralympic coverage.
China dominates the Paralympic medals table in much the same way the United States has led the Olympics the past several games. As part of a push to expand opportunities for Paralympians, the USOPC increased payments to medal winners to make them equal to what Olympians get ($37,500 for gold medals, for instance).
Toyota, the “presenting partner” of the NBC broadcast, recently pledged $5 million in direct support for Paralympians aiming for Tokyo and the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing. Added coverage on NBC figures to boost fundraising and other means of support.
“We are committed to growing our coverage across our platforms and bringing to the American audience the extraordinary achievements of Para athletes well into the future,” NBC Olympics head Gary Zenkel said.