Come on you guys, NBC is covering the Olympics as hard as it can

Four years ago, I sat in my room in Los Angeles and contemplated the boatloads of work I had to organize before 7:30 the next morning. It was 2:00 am. Desperate for something to help me stay awake, I flicked on my small, remote-less television and commenced watching live coverage of the Beijing Olympics. What a joy -- the ability to watch live, world-class athletic events at an ungodly hour of the morning, when I was actually determined to stay conscious for at least another two hours.

For the next two weeks, those late-night broadcasts were a godsend. My strange work hours allowed for considerable live viewing; I didn't have to bother with tape delayed presentation from later in the day, when the rest of the United States would be awake to enjoy it. I  have always enjoyed the Olympics, but now I look back fondly on Beijing as my favorite summer games.

However, I think I am reasonable enough to realize that for both the majority of the American population and for NBC, this kind of viewership was not ideal. The sheer distance and time zone differences between most of the United States and China made it impossible for most viewers to access live coverage -- at least, those viewers not crazy enough to adapt to the odd hours -- so tape delays were a matter of necessity.

In London, NBC faces a few different problems in covering this year's Olympic games. One is the traditional concerns of broadcasting a global event across both the Atlantic ocean and several time zones. The other is the emergence of social media that weren't as popular four years ago. Suddenly, the network is being barraged from all corners of the Web -- by commentators and critics complaining about the lack of live TV coverage and by people posting results on platforms like Twitter. It became clear that tape-delayed coverage was mere folly  in an age where, if you are interested enough to watch an event four to eight hours after it happens, then you probably already know the result.

It is a situation no executive would envy, but NBC is undoubtedly doing what it feels is best in the situation. The relative proximity of London/Great Britain to the United States (as compared to Sydney, Athens and Beijing before it) allows viewers a greater opportunity to view events during more reasonable hours, most notably during the workday and early evening. To account for this, NBC Live is offering web streaming of many events, accessible to anyone with an approved cable subscription. But the network must also be beholden to advertisers who pay top dollar for a promo spot during prime time. As such, the tape-delayed coverage affords the more traditional viewer a chance to watch edited coverage of the day's events from the comforts of their living rooms. The drawback of this prime-time coverage, of course, is that many viewers will already know the results, but what else is NBC to do? Not show any coverage in prime time? That would be unreasonable, and frankly stupid.

As a denizen of Twitter, a forum for discussion that lends itself terrifically to short polemics on, well ... everything, I am privy to the deluge of complaints about coverage that might be less visible in the world outside of our computer monitors. It seems like NBC's coverage of the 2012 Olympics has been a resounding failure, but the numbers would argue otherwise. According to the Los Angeles Times, ratings are up 9% from Beijing, and NBC, which went into this summer expecting to lose money on their coverage, is actually looking to break even financially.

Problem solved? Not quite. But it appears that the problem is less dire than social media's citizens would have you think.

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