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A guide for watching the Olympic games on both TV and Internet

Fans of the Olympic games won't have to worry about missing their favorite events this year -- even though it's being held halfway around the world in Beijing, China.

Coverage of even the most recent Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece in 2004 seems paltry compared to NBC's plans for the next 16 days.

The network plans on airing 3,600 hours of the Games on seven television channels and the Internet.

That's 1,000 more hours of coverage than from all of the previous Summer Olympics combined.

While NBC will be the hub of the Olympics -- showcasing swimming and gymnastics -- the games are also being shown on several cable channels.

Cable and satellite customers can check out USA, MSNBC, CNBC, Oxygen, Telemundo and Universal HD for additional coverage.

Arvig Communications signed a deal with NBC to provide the additional coverage.

"We're going to have expanded coverage (MSNBC, CNBC)," said David Pratt, Arvig's director of video operations.

One part of the coverage that Arvig's cable customer will be missing -- if they don't use a workaround -- is live streaming of events on, at least for now.

When visitors to NBC's Web site click on an event for the first time, they are asked to enter in a zip code and television provider.

Arvig customers are given a message that the company hasn't partnered up with NBC.

But viewers can just click the back button and choose DirecTV or Dish Network. NBC's terms of service state that it can require viewers to enter in a valid satellite account number, but haven't implemented that feature as of yet.

Practically the only video that won't be streamed live on the Internet is coverage geared for NBC's prime-time slots in the evening.

That means that if fans want to see Michael Phelps try for eight gold medals, besting Mark Spitz's mark of seven first-place finishes set at the 1972 Games, they need to tune in to Channel 11 locally.

It's the same routine if viewers want to see if the U.S. men's gymnastics team can repeat its gold medal performance of 2004.

With the marquee sports taking the prime-time spots, fans of niche sports such as archery, judo and team handball can watch full games online.

Those who don't have the time during the day can access the 1,000 hours of Internet video 24/7.

The upshot? Olympics fans may not be seen outdoors much this month, and don't think it too odd if a co-worker asks if you caught the field hockey game last night.