Local TV Covering Home Town Heroes From Rio

With the Summer Olympics starting Friday, local TV crews are already on the ground in Rio de Janeiro ready to report the local stories they’ve been pursuing for more than a year.

NBCUniversal Owned Television Stations alone sent 40 anchors, reporters, photographers and producers. Tegna has a 25-person contingent including staffers from 12 of the group’s NBC affiliates.

While local TV folks will be working alongside NBC (which helps with a lot of the heavy lifting, like infrastructure) in Rio, they are charged with producing locally focused stories that won’t make national TV.

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Tegna, for instance, sees the Olympics as another step in their year-long coverage of hometown heroes – athletes like the swimmers Michael Phelps and Missy Franklin and soccer’s Carli Lloyd, said David Hunt, Tegna’s director of local sports strategies and initiative.

“There are Olympians in our backyards and everyone has a story,” said Hunt, who, along with KUSA Denver’s VP of interactive Tim Dietz, has been in Rio prepping Tegna’s multi-platform coverage since mid-July. “Our goal from the get-go has been to tell their story from outside the lines.”

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The NBCUniversal Owned Stations also are thinking local, with plans to deliver live reports on TV, mobile, social and digital platforms. The group’s team will be equipped with cellular bonded mobile backpacks so they can file reports from places like the Copacabana Beach, the company said.

Nexstar’s Olympics presence will include four anchors from stations in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., Little Rock, Ark., Fresno, Calif. and Shreveport, La., who will deliver content to the group’s 21 NBC affiliates, as well as non-affiliates that have athletes in the games, said Blake Russell, senior VP of station operations.

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“They know who is from those markets and will be targeting those people to make sure they are on their heels all the time,” he said.

The team has 471 custom live shots in Rio scheduled from now through the end of the games, he said. Nexstar filed 68 custom shots from the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

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While there have been questions about Rio's preparedness to host the games – polluted water has been a particular issue – local TV reps said they have had no problems inside Olympic Park.

“I’m sure we will have a couple of fire drills but everyone feels very comfortable about what we know at this point,” Russell said. “And what we don’t know will hit us upside the face and we will deal with it.”