Twitter named as NBC's latest partner in official Olympics coverage

Days after the creation of an official Olympics hub that will connect athletes and fans during the London 2012 Games, US media and entertainment giant NBCUniversal is reportedly partnering with Twitter for up-to-the-minute Olympics information.

As reported by the Wall Street Journal, the partnership will involve a dedicated team that will centralise all related tweets on one page during the Games. Although the exact execution of the partnership remains to be seen, the implication is that the partnership will go beyond the widely used practice of simply launching a new Twitter handle and directing users to that page. The pairing will also reportedly involve a significant number of mentions of the Twitter service during NBC broadcasts.

Earlier this month NBC announced a similar partnership with Facebook that will involve sending viewers to the network's Facebook page for exclusive updates and behind-the-scenes photos and videos. Like the Facebook arrangement, the Twitter deal will not involve the sharing of any advertising revenue from the Games, thus making the partnership more about synergy and brand leverage than direct profit.

"This is a way for new users to sample Twitter," Chloe Sladden, Twitter's vice president of media, told the Journal. Twitter is also hoping that such an arrangement will look good to potential advertisers as it continues to struggle to find ways to monetise the popularity of the free service.

However, it remains unclear what such deals can really do to improve Twitter's already wide reach among mainstream Internet users. After nearly six years, the service has grown from a trendy micro-messaging site for friends into a tool that major corporations and individuals alike use to update the entire planet on their status in real-time.

The most recent example of the site's reach came via a widely circulated timeline of Twitter messages detailing the recent tragic shooting event in Aurora, Colorado. The stream of tweets offered a level of detail and immediacy to a news story that rivalled the video reports delivered directly from the scene of the event.

Nevertheless, it appears that Twitter believes it can add another layer of support to NBC's coverage when the Games begin on Wednesday. According to the report, Twitter will embed its own staff member with NBC's official Olympics coverage team in London. An official statement regarding NBC's partnership with Twitter is expected to be released shortly.

The International Olympic Committee recently released its official policy on social media use for London 2012.