Even casual Olympics fans recognized Saturday's duel between Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte in the men's 400m IM as one of the 2012 Olympics' signature events. And NBC holding the live broadcast of the race off television until primetime made some sense.
But NBC also made some fans using its live stream online and via an app fairly upset, too.
First, it looked like the app wasn't even going to serve up the stream.
Did NBC pull the Phelps-Lochte duel from the Olympic app just as it was supposed to start? Holy moly, not cool. — Seth Emerson (@SethEmerson) July 28, 2012
Where is the Phelps race in the @NBCOlympics iPhone app?? — Chris Littmann (@chrislittmann) July 28, 2012
That got rectified shortly before Lochte hit the pool (he ended up whipping Michael Phelps and the rest of the field in the event, winning it by more than 3.5 seconds), but NBC's streams were wonky for some, and well behind the live action being tweeted by reporters for others.
OK, now it's on the app, but it's a little bit behind compared to the computer. — Chris Dobbertean (@ChrisDobbertean) July 28, 2012
Apparently big delay in the live event and the web feed. Reporters at pool ahead of us. — Erick Smith (@erick_smith) July 28, 2012
Maybe the best example of this? Yahoo!'s Pat Forde beat the @NBCOlympics feed to the tweet of Lochte's win by three full minutes.
lochte dominant win. Phelps fourth. WOW> — Pat Forde (@YahooForde) July 28, 2012
RESULTS: Men's 400m IM: @Ryanlochte WINS! @MichaelPhelps finishes fourth: nbco.ly/O9ffif — NBCOlympics (@NBCOlympics) July 28, 2012
There's little reason NBC would change strategies midway through the Olympics, especially since tape-delaying the Opening Ceremony — also roundly criticized — didn't hurt the network's ratings for it. NBC just better get used to getting skewered every time something like this happens: the great thing about smartphones is that when jilted viewers can't see what they want, when they want, the aggrieved tweet is sure to swiftly follow.