NBC London 2012 is most watched in US history as criticism mounts of zero Paralympic coverage

NBC reports record figures for London2012 despite #NBCfail social media attacksDespite high levels of criticism over its coverage NBC’s Olympic’s have become the most-watched TV event in US history.

The success of its coverage matched that of the BBC which delivered the biggest national television event since current measuring systems began with 51.9m or 90% of the UK population watching at least 15 minutes of coverage.

NBC said that 219m people watched London 2012 Games with an average of 31 million viewers watching Sunday’s closing ceremony.

For the US broadcaster the numbers were up 12% over the closing for the Beijing Games. The most watched overall TV broadcast was the Opening Ceremony, which attracted 41 million viewers.

That also proved to be the start of NBC’s problems as it was criticised for editing out parts of the ceremony and for not broadcasting subsequent events live.

Its scheduling gave rise to the Twitter hashtag #NBCfail as viewers attacked the broadcaster, part of the Comcast cable group, for failing to show live events or offer free online access.

At its high point NBC complained to Twitter about a British journalist Guy Adams after he tweeted that Americans should email the head of the broadcaster’s Olympic coverage. Adams was temporarily banned by Twitter, but later reinstated.

The criticism continued all the way to the closing ceremony of London 2012 as NBC cut Muse, Kate Bush, The Who and Ray Davies out of its broadcast as it showed an episode of new sitcom Animal Practice.

CNN reported that viewers were outraged by NBC’s decision to cut away from the closing ceremony:

NBC was pummeled by viewers who took to social media after the network cut away early from the closing ceremony of the London Games on Sunday to air a new television show, drawing outrage from those who tuned in for the highly anticipated musical spectacle.

The Twitter-sphere exploded, with “#NBCfail” and “#closingceremonies” trending worldwide, after NBC cut out performances by Ray Davies, Kate Bush, The Who and Muse in favor of a commercial-free airing of “Animal Practice.”

“I still don’t understand, it’s a tape delay, so can’t you do the math in advance? Why do you need to cut off the closing ceremony? #nbcfail,” Raj Sarkar wrote on Twitter.

@NBCOlympics tweeted: “And stayed tuned for #TheWho after@AnimalPractice :)”.

The smiley face did not seem to reflect how its viewers were feeling. As @BookSavvy tweeted: “‘Gee, I can’t wait for the #ClosingCeremonies to be over so I can watch Animal Practice’ – No One Ever.” While  Mia Farrow tweeted, “Hey @nbc it’s SUNDAY! Many of us would LOVE to be watching Olympic closing ceremonies right now.”

Criticism of NBC, which broadcast 5,535 hours of London 2012 coverage on TV and the web, has continued after the closing ceremony as it emerged that no US broadcaster will be showing any Paralympics coverage.

A number of petitions and Facebook pages have been launched, including “NBC Please Broadcast the 2012 Paralympics in the United States“, as well as many Twitter users making their unhappiness known.

In the UK, Channel4 will broadcast 400 hours of Paralympics coverage offering “the most extensive coverage of the Paralympic Games that has ever been broadcast in the UK.

Channel 4 is also benefiting commercially as brands snap up Paralympic ad packages.

Americans, however, will have to settle for watching it online. The games are being live streamed by the International Paralympic Committee.

Elsewhere others are being much better served by their national broadcasters than Americans.

Down under, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation will broadcast the 2012 Paralympics across Australia. There will also be extensive coverage in Canada via “Olympic Broadcast Media Consortium” (comprised of Bell Media’s CTV Television Network, TSN2, and French-language RDS; as well as Rogers Media’s Sportsnet One).