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Twitter to NBC: Livestream the Olympics opening ceremony

The Olympic Rings are displayed on Tower Bridge over the river Thames in central London on July 22, 2012. The London 2012 Olympic Games begin on July 27, 2012. AFP PHOTO / LEON NEAL (Photo credit should read LEON NEAL/AFP/GettyImages)
LEON NEAL
The Olympic Rings are displayed on Tower Bridge over the river Thames in central London on July 22, 2012. The London 2012 Olympic Games begin on July 27, 2012.
LEON NEAL/AFP/GettyImages

(CBS News) The London 2012 Olympic Games opening ceremony kicks off at 9 p.m. local time for Britons. Anxious fans stateside are flooding Twitter with complaints that NBC will not air the ceremony live. But has the digital age promoted an air of unrealistic expectations?

Guardian editor Matt Wells came out swinging on Twitter, tweeting: "NBC showing complete contempt for its audience by not showing or streaming Olympics opening ceremony live."

It's worth noting that no Olympic opening ceremony has ever been streamed live online. Both the reasons why anyone would expect NBC to livestream the event and the fact that the option is not offered are symptoms of the complicated relationship between traditional media and advancing technology.

NBC reportedly paid $1.18 billion for U.S. rights to air the Olympic Games. They are streaming the sporting events online, but have decided to hold the opening ceremony to air in prime time, instead of live at 3 p.m. ET.

Perhaps the sentiment on Twitter is best summarized in a tweet by @ohonestly: "Whoa whoa whoa, wait a second - NBC is broadcasting the opening ceremony on TAPE DELAY? It's 2012! I need to live-tweet!!"

It's tempting to speculate that advancing technology fosters a desire for instant gratification. At a time when we have access to real-time information via social networks like Twitter, Facebook or YouTube, maybe it's fair to ask why the Olympic opening ceremony won't be broadcast or streamed live.

A recent Nielson report suggests that more people are turning to non-traditional ways to watch TV. According to the report, 51 percent of people said they watched TV on laptops, 49 percent said they used an Apple iPad, 37 percent used a tablet computer and 42 percent said they used video-enabled smartphones. Traditional media has to adapt to the new ways people consume media.

Perhaps peoples' viewing habits have changed, but advertising business models need time to play catch-up. A recent comparison of TV-ad spending versus Internet-ad spending, provided by the consulting group Zenith Optimedia, estimates advertisers spent $62.3 billion for TV advertising versus $30 billion for Internet. While these are not exact numbers, it suggests that NBC is holding the opening ceremony for prime time because they will get the best return on investment.

Where does this leave us? Not watching Team U.S.A. parade around London live, that's for sure. So, no: The London Olympics opening ceremony will not be televised or streamed live. In the meanwhile, one can always complain on Twitter.