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Note to Olympic Whiners: This Is What NBC Does

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It feels like Groundhog Day at the Olympics. This is the third Olympic Games with a significant online video streaming presence, and each time NBC has withheld the most popular events from live streaming so that it can air them in prime time.

Why does this still surprise people?

Yes, it's frustrating for people who would like to see swimming and gymnastics events as they happen, rather than hours later. Yes, it's annoying to have the results spoiled on news sites and Twitter feeds that don't bow to NBC's programming decisions. Yes, it cheapens the games when NBC edits its primetime coverage into a highlights reel that focuses on American athletes, rather than showing the full competitions as they happened.

But that's what NBC does. That's what it's always done. Get used to it.

Why does NBC do this? Because it paid $1.2 billion for the U.S. broadcast rights to the London Olympics and it's going to sell some ads. While we might wish it different, NBC doesn't view covering the Olympics as a sacred trust. It views the games as a summer reality show.

Another news flash for the complainers: NBC is doing the right thing for most of its viewers. Most people are happy to sit down with their families at night and watch truncated versions of the marquee events. They love seeing the major moments without a lot of downtime, and they enjoy tweeting about the games, both celebrating and mocking what they're seeing.

There's been a lot of flak online about NBC's streaming and broadcasting efforts, and the word "fail" is getting thrown around so much that it's lost all meaning. Mashable, however, is the site leading the charge. Mashable seems to have made a mission out of thumping NBC. It complained when the opening ceremonies weren't live streamed, celebrated the #NBCFail hashtag, mocked NBC tape delays, tweaked NBC for not posting clips online of major moments, and then promoted the #NBCSucks hashtag. And we're not even a week into the games.

If the tape delay bothers you that much, avoid news sites and Twitter for the rest of the games. You might also try watching the thousands of hours of live Olympic coverage at NBCOlympics.com. No one seems to mention that. Fans of badminton and table tennis probably don't have to worry about their events being hijacked by NBC's prime time coverage.

I know its galling for those who think of the Olympics as public property, but NBC is in the business of making money. This is the system we have. There are thousands of hours of live coverage online (for pay TV customers only, unfortunately). For all the rest -- for Phelps and Lochte and Solo and Jones and Bolt and more -- you'll have to accept NBC's delays and editing. These are NBC's Olympics, after all. NBC paid for it.

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