NBC, Twitter defend Olympic coverage

The Who's "Pinball Wizard" is performed by the Kaiser Chiefs during the Closing Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) David J. Phillip

The Who's "Pinball Wizard" is performed by the Kaiser Chiefs during the closing ceremony at the Summer Olympics, Aug. 12, 2012, in London.
AP
(CBS News) Olympic viewers in the United States were faced with an unprecedented dilemma this summer: to tweet or not to tweet?

The results of the London Games were known well before the actual competitions aired in prime time on NBC, making it nearly impossible to tune in without already knowing the events' results -- unless you completely avoided your computer and phone, and steered clear of Twitter.

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As a result, NBC faced criticism for waiting to air many of the events during prime-time hours instead of showing them live.

But NBC and Twitter say their partnership worked well and actually boosted overall viewership. Twitter teamed up with NBC Sports on an Olympics event page, and many of the athletes themselves tweeted throughout their time in London.

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

Gary Zenkel, the president of NBC Olympics, echoed Sladden's sentiments.

"The Olympics have never been about the results -- they have always been about the stories told," he told the paper.

NBCUniversal called the 2012 Olympics "the most-watched television event in U.S. history."

Based on Nielsen Co. ratings figures, NBCUniversal said that more than 219 million viewers watched the Summer Games on NBC and its sister networks. That beats the 215 million who tuned in for the 2008 Beijing Games.

The closing ceremony alone was seen by 31 million viewers, according to the network.

Twitter boasted about its role in the Summer Games, citing 150 million Olympic-related tweets over 16 days and noting in a press release, "No matter the sport, Twitter was your front row seat for all the action."

And of course, there was also the option to live-stream the London 2012 Summer Games. And this year about 159.3 million people decided to do just that, according to NBC.

Tell us: Do you think Twitter "spoiled" the 2012 Olympics?

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