London’s 2012 Olympic Games are fast approaching, and NBC, which has television rights to the Olympics through 2020, is doing everything it can to recoup its substantial investment.

That’s good news for viewers in the United States this year because NBC’s strategy will make the 2012 Games coverage the most extensive yet.

As detailed by TheNextWeb, NBC’s goal “is to broadcast every live event in some form, showing more than 3,600 hours of Olympic coverage across its outlets.” While an NBC spokesperson has clarified that not every event will be streamed live online, viewers in the United States will have a front row seat for “all 302 Gold Medals and every event in-between” through at least one channel, be it broadcast, cable or internet.

For those videos that will stream live on the web, NBC, which is now owned by cable giant Comcast, has inked a deal with YouTube, which will power the NBCOlympics.com video player.

NBC’s strategy for the 2012 Games stands in stark contrast to the 2008 Beijing Games. As The New York Times’ Richard Sandomir observes, in Beijing “25 sports were streamed live but none of them were important to the evening broadcast, which is usually at least four hours long.”

A lot has changed since 2008, something Rick Cordella, NBC Sports Digital Media’s VP and GM, readily admits. The good news is that NBC is embracing the change. “We’re not scared of cannibalization,” Cordella told The Times. “Anytime you have a great event that happens before it shows on the air, it increases ratings and generates buzz.”

That’s the right approach, and it should give Olympics viewers in the US a broader, more flexible, and therefore more enjoyable viewing experience this year. It could also create some interesting second screen effects which will be well worth observing.