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Meet the man who started #NBCFail

John D. Sutter, CNN
  • Steven Marx, 48, is credited with starting the #NBCFail meme
  • Marx, a Web designer from Illinois, says he doesn't deserve much credit
  • He found it annoying that he couldn't watch the games live online
  • The meme has become a major thread of online conversation

(CNN) -- Steven Marx wasn't that mad. And with only 17 Twitter followers, the 48-year-old certainly wasn't popular when he reportedly created the #NBCFail hashtag.

But that online conversation would become one of the dominant storylines of the London Olympics, particularly among people who like to mock NBC's sportscasters and in the United States where viewers were upset with the network for delaying its broadcasts of the games to show them in prime time.

Marx, a Web designer in Peoria, Illinois, is credited by the blog Mashable with creating that conversation in reference to the London Games. "Interesting how NBC never mentions you need a cable/satellite subscription w/MSNBC/CNBC to view any coverage online. We're screwed. #NBCFail," Marx wrote on his Twitter account on July 26, the day before the Opening Ceremonies in London.

He was surprised by the heated and hilarious conversation that followed.

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"I don't know to what extent I can take credit," he told CNN by phone on Tuesday. "I don't know how it works, if people saw my hashtag and used it or if other people came up with it on their own and added to it.

"It's kind of fun for me. I've been working in the field of technology for 20 years now and it's finally fun for me to get my 15 minutes of Internet fame."

Welcome to the Twitter Olympics

Marx was on vacation in New Mexico when someone sent him a message on Twitter telling him that bloggers were crediting him with starting the #NBCFail topic.

He found it amusing in part because he wasn't all that mad at NBC, just annoyed that he couldn't watch Olympic programming live and online for free. It sounds as though he almost feels bad about playing a small role in unleashing the fury of the Internet on the U.S. broadcast network.

"In some ways it's showing some of the worst sides of what this instant media can do," he said, adding: "It's sort of that mob mentality that Twitter encourages. I think in this sense it's showing the bad. But in the Occupy (Wall Street) movement, it showed the good that Twitter can do for organizing. Even though it's made me slightly famous, I'm not necessarily thrilled with what's happened. I'm not terribly impressed with NBC, but that's not new this year."

Some online writers have said that watching the #NBCFail hashtag has become more fun than watching the actual Olympics.

And plenty of others have taken up the torch of teasing NBC, too. A feed called @NBCDelayed posts constant "breaking" updates about old news, making fun of the fact that the Olympics are shown on a several-hour delay in the United States.

"BREAKING: Underdog Jamaican bobsleigh team loses control and crashes," that feed wrote on Tuesday night in reference to the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Alberta.

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