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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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The Olympic rings displayed outside the basketball arena in the Olympic Park before the start of the Olympics in London. With so many different options, viewers need a road map to make sense of it all. NBC is promising that every competition in London will be available to U.S. consumers live, with the bulk of them seen online.

Jae Hong/AP/File

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In the age of social media, NBC now has millions of television critics who make their opinions known about every aspect of Olympics coverage instantly.

They've even set up their own hashtag on Twitter: (hash)nbcfail. The online complaints focused Saturday on NBC's decision to air the marquee swimming event won by American Ryan Lochte on tape delay in prime time, and Friday on the network not streaming the opening ceremony online. Sunday's critics started early: people wondering why the U.S. men's basketball team's opening game aired on a cable network while women's cycling was shown on NBC.

The conversation is so active that NBC's executive producer of the games, Jim Bell, took to Twitter to answer critics and even change the way NBC is doing something in response.

"(hash)nbcfail is filled with a lot of crying and snark and humor, but NBC can actually learn something from it," said Jeff Jarvis, a media critic who writes the Buzzmachine.com blog.

Complaints about tape delayed coverage are an evergreen with Olympics held on foreign soil. But the London Games are the first with Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites in full flower, in a mobile phone era where people carry computers that instantly deliver news in their pockets. It has amplified the impatience of viewers who want to see events on their large-screen TVs instantly and haven't been mollified by NBC's decision to stream the events live online.

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