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Has NBC's Olympic coverage flopped? Twitter users are disappointed

The hashtag 'nbcfail' has become a popular way of critiquing NBC's Olympic coverage. Can the network learn something from the social media backlash?

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Jonathan Wald, who produces Piers Morgan's CNN talk show and used to work at NBC, tweeted that "the medal for most Olympic whining goes to everyone who complains about what happens every four years. Tape delay."

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One of those complainers, in fact, was Morgan: He tweeted his disdain Friday for NBC's decision not to make the opening ceremony available live.

The advent of Twitter makes it seems like there's a lot of unhappiness when the majority of viewers are watching NBC on tape delay and appear satisfied with it, Wald said in an interview.

NBC can point to television ratings justifying their approach. The Nielsen company said the opening ceremony drew more than 40 million people Friday, the most ever for one of those Olympic events, and Saturday's first night of coverage saw overnight ratings up 8 percent from Beijing four years ago. Many at NBC believe the social media conversation only fuels viewership.

Jarvis said he believes NBC could satisfy fans by, for example, televising events like Lochte's race live in the afternoon and then repeating it at night. He acknowledges, though, that he's not the one who'd potentially be risking millions of dollars in advertising revenue if such a decision cut into prime-time viewing.

NBC has tried to "hold on to old media strategies in a new media world," Jarvis said. "And that's a mistake."

Some of the online complaints seem to take special glee in bashing NBC, with a few describing it like an Olympic sport of its own. Some are quite personal, like the CNN producer who tweeted Sunday: "No USA basketball in my hotel room. Why they aren't putting it on NBC's main channel is beyond me!"

Bell, in some of his back-and-forth with online critics Sunday, answered one tweeter who described herself as a St. Louis mom and complained about NBC's "Nightly News" on Saturday airing results of events that hadn't been shown on the network yet. Bell tweeted that he'd look into it, and shortly after told her that "Nightly News" would announce a "spoiler alert" to tell people to avert their eyes if they didn't want to see results.

Not everyone's a critic, though.

On Sunday, the account for the U.S. Olympic sailing team tweeted: "this is by far the greatest sailing TV coverage in Olympic history. Wonderful moment for the sport."

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