Record audiences for NBC Olympics despite complaints

NBC has announced record audiences for its prime-time TV coverage of the London Olympics, even as Twitter erupted in complaints about the US network’s online streaming efforts and delays in broadcasting key competitions.

Contributions to the Twitter hashtags #NBCfail and #NBCsucks surged over the weekend, with many posters complaining about the quality of NBCUniversal’s online platform, which promised to show every sporting contest live for those unwilling to wait hours for the network’s maincoverage of the day’s events.

Others complained about the plethora of ads interrupting NBC’s coverage across multiple broadcast and cable outlets, and commentary by some of the NBC anchors.

But NBC Olympics producer Jim Bell took to Twitter to respond briefly to some of the gripes. “Coverage on both net & cables a mix of tape and live events. Yesterday nearly 40 hours of live Oly sports on television btw,” Bell tweeted.

Despite the complaints, NBC said  that a record 28.7 million US viewers watched its primetime coverage on Saturday’s first day of competition, when popular swimmer Michael Phelps was shut out of the medals for the first time in years.

NBC said Saturday’s evening audience was 2 million more than watched the first day of competition during the Atlanta Olympics in 1996. An average 12.3 million US viewers watched the Olympics on television on Saturday morning – a 56 per cent increase over the Saturday daytime audience for Beijing in 2008, the network said.

NBCUniversal, which is majority owned by cable operator Comcast, paid $1.18 billion for the US rights to broadcast the London Games, and has won $1 billion in advertising for its Olympic broadcasts over the next three weeks.

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