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Twitter, NBC defend Olympics coverage after viewer outrage

The companies tell The New York Times that Twitter wasn't a place for Olympics spoilers, but a way to tease what the night's events would be about.


Twitter and NBC just don't see why so many are complaining about their Olympics partnership.

Speaking to The New York Times in an interview published yesterday, Twitter and NBC representatives said that just 0.5 percent of all tweets about the Olympics criticized the companies' partnership. All others, they say, took no issue with their deal.

Still, it's hard to diminish the sheer number of complaints that rained down on the companies as the Olympics went on. From the very beginning, tweeters were upset with NBC's decision to hold off coverage of key events to prime time. Twitter, meanwhile, became a place where those who had seen the events in real time, or watched them online, divulged results before the rest of the world could view the events. It was seemingly a recipe for contempt.

"It's not fair to describe Twitter as a spoiler mechanism," Chloe Sladden, vice president for media at Twitter, told the Times in response to those complaints. "What we saw is that it was an amazing daytime teaser trailer driving people into prime time."

NBC Olympics President Gary Zenkel told the Times that the results really didn't matter; the games "have always been about the stories told."

But Twitter users didn't always agree. A popular hashtag, #NBCfail, made its way across the social platform during the Olympics and was used when spoilers cropped up. A mock account, called @NBCDelayed, garnered more than 29,000 followers. Add that to the egg that got on both companies' faces when The Independent reporter Guy Adams criticized the opening ceremony tape delay and saw his account suspended (later reinstated), and it becomes clear that not everything was so wonderful.

In the end, though, NBC made it clear it was about the viewers. And according to Zenkel, his company believed that the Twitter partnership would bring in more viewers.

"That hunch proved to be true," he told the Times.