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NBC Olympic delay annoying, necessary

U.S. Olympic swim team member Kara Lynn Joyce

U.S. Olympic swim team member Kara Lynn Joyce checks her phone between practice laps at the University of Tennessee's Allan Jones Aquatic Center in Knoxville, Tenn. (July, 12, 2012) Credit: AP

With all of NBC’s innovative live-streaming, tweeting and updates abound, it's surprising to see the Internet is also the network’s biggest enemy in the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games.

The five-hour time difference between the U.S. east coast and London means all the events unfold long before prime time, and NBC has opted to delay airing major events until the advertiser-friendly 8 p.m. time slot.

In 2012, fans are accustomed to learning news and results in real-time, not in edited-to-death, condensed broadcasts. Bitter fans are tweeting their frustration with the spoiled results with #nbcfail and @NBCDelayed.

It’s easy to blame NBC and chock it up to poor pro-ratings decisions. The fact is, in the best interest of broadcasting the events for the greatest audience, they have made the most realistic sensible choice, as frustrating it is to stumble upon results in the day and lose part of the thrill of watching in the evening. It’s been a problem every year the Olympics take place in an non-U.S.-based time zone. This is the first Games when real-time news results and social media sharing are so prevalent, and the network is taking notes.

NBC is aware of their viewers’ upset with the inevitable spoiling of results and delayed broadcasts, and has made efforts to minimize them, such as a “spoiler alert” warning on “Nightly News” and @NBCNews wording tweets to say “click for results.” There's no doubt the network is learning from this push into the digital-meets-broadcast pool, and viewers can look forward to NBC applying the new media knowledge for the Sochi 2014 Winter Games coverage.

Still, NBC’s tact is tested: On the Monday evening broadcast, a promo ran for “The Today Show” featuring swimmer Missy Franklin and her “first gold medal” during the commercial break directly before Franklin was to swim the gold medal-winning 100 m backstroke race.

Disappointed viewers also claim NBC’s Opening Ceremony broadcast was an #nbcfail. The ceremony began in London at 9 p.m. BST, 4 p.m. EST, and unlike U.K. broadcaster BBC’s live, unedited broadcast, NBC chose to air their version of the ceremony at 7:30 p.m. More sources of viewers’ discontent Friday evening: NBC’s sweeping edits, incessant commentary, countless cuts to commercial and omittance of a 7/7 bombings memorial segment in honor of the 52 civilians killed in the 2005 terrorist attacks on London’s public transportation system.

The time results were released of some notable events. NBC did not broadcast these event until after 8 p.m. EST:

-Men’s swimming 200m butterfly final: July 31 3:02 p.m. (EST)
-Women’s gymnastics team final: July 31 at 1:41 p.m.
-Women’s swimming 100 m backstroke final: July 30 at 2:55 p.m.
-Men’s gymnastics team final: July 30 at 2:19 p.m.
-Men’s swimming 400m individual medley final: July 28 at 2:39 p.m.

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