Mike Tirico is trying to make the most of his time while preparing for next year’s Tokyo Olympics.
Tirico, who took over as NBC’s prime-time host at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Games, has been on conference calls with the network’s Olympics unit once every two weeks for the last 18 months. He is in Tokyo this week touring the main venues and doing some interviews with network affiliates promoting the games.
“The year will go by fast enough, but it can’t get here soon enough,” said Tirico, who traveled to Japan after hosting last week’s British Open coverage in Northern Ireland.
This will be the third Olympics that Tirico will work for NBC. He was the afternoon host for the 2016 Rio Games less than a month after joining the network from ESPN. He became the prime-time host in February 2017 — a year before Pyeongchang — when Bob Costas stepped down after 11 games in the role.
“When I arrived in Pyeongchang to tour the venues it was a bit of a whirlwind. When I got on the ground this time I was fired up and ready for it,” he said.
This will be the second of three straight Olympics taking place in Asia, an advantage for Tirico and viewers. Since Tokyo is 13 hours ahead of New York, most of the marquee event finals will take place live in prime time.
Tirico said the time difference is a benefit because they can plan the next day after going off the air as opposed to seeing how things go during the day and then planning the prime-time show. Tirico will be hosting an average of five hours of coverage per night — the 3-hour show from 8-11 p.m. Eastern and then prime-time plus, which takes place from 8:30-10:30 p.m. Pacific and late night on the East Coast.
“We don’t want to get too far ahead during the games. We want to take things hour by hour because the biggest part of the broadcast is the day-to-day execution,” Tirico said.
With most of the venues completed, Tirico said Tokyo is better organized than Rio and that a lot of the events will be either downtown or close to downtown. One of the challenges he sees is trying to capture the energy of Tokyo, especially during morning hours when the city comes to life.
Tokyo also has significance to NBC’s history with the Olympics. The 1964 Summer Games was the first broadcast by the network. Only 14 hours were broadcast back then while next year will see a combined 7,000 across NBC’s various networks as well as online.
“I think this is going to be a perfect fit for the Olympics. It is most populous metro area in the world with so much great scenery and tradition,” Tirico said.