NBC Olympic live streams aren’t live, Phelps flub indicates

A blunder during one of Michael Phelps’ races Tuesday has confirmed that NBC’s live stream of Olympic events is not actually live.

A delay of at least a couple of seconds set up a spoiler in the outcome of Phelps’ 200-meter butterfly race.

With about 50 meters left in the race, the network sent out an app notification with the outcome. I was still watching Phelps swim, supposedly “live,” after a notification on my iPad had already told me the race’s result.

Granted, the live stream was coming from NBC’s Live Extra app and the notification from its NBC Olympics app, but you’d think the two would be in sync. (I mean, they even share the same logo.)


The network hasn’t told me exactly how long the delay is, but a member of its communications team did not deny there is a delay while speaking with me over the phone. If NBC gets back to me with more information we will post an update.

I experienced another delay with the live stream Sunday during the men’s 4x100-meter freestyle relay. While I was still watching the race, a friend of mine had already seen the results on Twitter.

NBC claims select cable subscribers can live stream more than 300 Olympic events from the Live Extra app on iOS and Android as well as live stream from Live Extra on the website.

The streams are pretty close to live, but they aren’t. But that isn’t even the problem.

There’s nothing wrong with a slight delay. Getting feed from London back to the states, let alone Los Angeles, can’t be easy, so this may be due to technical issues. And sometimes, people do stuff on live TV that networks have to censor, so delays are justified in those instances too.

The problem lies in the fact that it’s not just Twitter beating NBC’s delay but NBC itself beating it.

NBC has been spoiling events left and right during its coverage of the 2012 Olympics, either on shows leading up to its prime-time coverage, on its website or on its Twitter account.

But the fact that its app notifications aren’t in sync with its live stream’s delays is just too much.



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