Olympic Viewing: Different NBC rules on Twitter

Despite some lingering dissatisfaction with NBC's practice of holding back television coverage of high-profile events for prime time, things are different on Twitter.

NBC's Olympics Twitter feed regularly reports news of events as they happen, as does the network's website. The Twitter feed also sends out alerts to followers shortly before big events are to take place, directing fans to live feeds of the action available online. This stands in contrast to television coverage, where the idea of not spoiling the experience for people who want to be surprised in the evening holds sway.

NBC would have lost credibility with the online community if things were done differently, said Jeff Jarvis, a media critic who writes the Buzzmachine.com blog.

"On the Net, they have to play by the Net's rules," Jarvis said. "On TV, they can play by their rules."

Now is essentially the only time zone on the Web, he said. NBC would have stuck out with other news organizations actively reporting news as it happens. NBC also believes — and research bears this out so far — that the people who actively seek out news of the games on the Web will also watch their broadcasts, and create a buzz that drives up interest among others.

Jarvis said he has occasionally been frustrated to get a tweet announcing a result when it hadn't been made clear when the event was taking place so he could watch it online. But after a few initial problems, he believes the online component of NBC's coverage has run fairly smoothly.

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