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A replica of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games torch is displayed at a shopping center to mark the one-year countdown to the event. - 


Scott Jagow: The Olympics are only a couple of weeks long, right? Somehow, NBC plans to cram five months worth of TV into the summer games next year. NBC says it'll devote 3,600 hours to the Beijing Olympics on its various networks. A lot of that programming will be streamed on the internet. Today actually marks the one-year countdown to Beijing. There was a big celebration in Tiananmen Square today. The Olympics are seen as a coming out party for China's economic progress, and the games will also be the most lucrative ever in terms of sponsorship. Jocelyn Ford reports from Beijing.

Jocelyn Ford: Corporate sponsors are lavishing $1.5 billion on the Beijing Olympics. That's about triple what they spent on the Athens games.

Nick Griffith of the sports marketing company Octagon says some of the Chinese corporate sponsors are spending as much for limited domestic rights as the global companies are spending for worldwide rights.

Nick Griffith: They're not doing it for marketing reasons as much as political reasons or just an obligation to support China. It's not essential for them to see a return.

That's because some of the four dozen Chinese sponsors are state-owned companies who want political brownie points or prestige.

Global companies like McDonalds and Johnson & Johnson also see the Olympics as an unprecedented opportunity to build their brand in China, but they face some risk to their international image.

Human rights groups have criticized Beijing for falling short of Olympic promises to promote human rights and allow free media coverage.

In Beijing, I'm Jocelyn Ford for Marketplace.