NBC Universal, which paid $1.181 billion for TV rights, will smash its own Olympic record with 5,535 hours of coverage across multiple platforms and will parade out the regulars (Bob Costas, Mary Carillo) as well as some special guests (Jimmy Fallon, Shaun White). But only 272.5 of those hours will be on the NBC flagship, so be sure to locate the Games' other TV homes—Bravo, CNBC, MSNBC, NBC Sports and Telemundo—on your channel guide. (Although not every event will be aired live, a practical impossibility, since as many as 40 will take place at once, all can be streamed live online.) Depending on your provider, specialty basketball and soccer networks will also be available, and if you don't mind waiting, the Games go 3-D for the first time, with 242 hours to be aired the day after events.
If you're one of the nine million expected to attend, you'll want to download
London 2012: Join In
(the IOC's official spectator guide) for calendars as well as maps to food providers and all-important ATMs. Those watching at home will be better served by the
London 2012: Official Results
mobile app and by NBC Live Extra, which offers free live-streaming coverage of all 304 events.
While your various feeds get flooded, the IOC will sift through the noise at the Olympic Athletes' Hub, a one-stop shop for the Facebook, Twitter (which has its own hub), Instagram and Tumblr outputs of 2,000-plus competitors. More participatory are Tweethletes, a "social media experiment" during the men's 100-meter final that challenges viewers to amass the 4,000 total tweets—each roughly 2.5 cm tall and hashtagged #100mfinal—needed to cover the distance faster than the winner, and an endeavor that has the London Eye glowing at night to match the mood of that day's Olympic-related tweets. (Yellow: good. Purple: bad!)
Armchair athletes can try their hand at the Olympics in Sega's
an enjoyable offering of 46 events, or in
Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games,
a cartoonish version that puts Donkey Kong, for example, on the parallel bars. An even less traditional Games can be found in
on iPad and iPhone, which has you help Usain Bolt dodge attacks from gold-hungry pirates and their cannon-firing blimps.
Muse's crunching, operatic
has proved a divisive official theme song; give it a fair shake on iTunes now, before it's drilled into your skull in highlight packages. The opening ceremony's soundtrack,
Isles of Wonder,
will be available for download on July 28; the closing ceremony's
Symphony of British Music,
on Aug. 12. Be sure, too, to brush up on the discographies of the latter's star-studded lineup: The Who, George Michael and, yes, what we all want—what we really, really want—the reunited Spice Girls.