Will The Winter Olympic Primetime Television Gender Gap Continue To Close?

Sochi Represented The Smallest Winter Olympic Gender Divide On Record –
What Will PyeongChang Bring?

Women athletes received a greater percentage of primetime broadcast television coverage during the 2014 Sochi Games than in any previous Winter Olympic broadcast studied according to Andrew C. Billings (University of Alabama), James R. Angelini (University of Delaware), and Paul J. MacArthur (Utica College), authors of the book Olympic Television: Broadcasting the Biggest Show on Earth.

NBC devoted 47.7 percent of its primetime Olympic coverage to women in 2014, compared to 52.3 percent to men, when mixed pair events are excluded. The 4.6 percent gender gap is the smallest for a Winter Olympiad recorded since the studies began. It is also significantly smaller than in any of the previous four Winter Games.

The gender gap is typically wider in the Winter Games than the Summer Games. Women received 49.8 percent of the primetime broadcast network coverage over the past six Summer Olympiads (1996-2016), compared to 40.2 percent over the past five Winter Olympiads (1998-2014). There was actually a reverse gender gap during the 2012 and 2016 Games, with women receiving 54.8 and 53.7 percent of NBC’s Olympic primetime broadcast coverage respectively. 

The authors will post regular updates about NBC’s coverage of men and women athletes throughout the 2018 Winter Games on FiveRingTV.com. A mid-Olympic report, with complete sport-by-sport coverage breakdowns, will be issued on February 18.

Olympic Television: Broadcasting the Biggest Show on Earth contains a detailed 20-year examination of how male and female athletes have been covered within primetime Olympic broadcasts. Published by Routledge, the book also has analyses of how race/ethnicity and nationality impact Olympic coverage, interviews with NBC personnel about the content and production of Olympic broadcasts, and an overview of Olympic television history.

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Note: The percentage of primetime devoted to men’s and women’s sports includes the total amount of time devoted to each event. Any time spent at the actual athletic site, on a profile about an athlete, or host commentary about a specific sport or athlete was recorded. Mixed pair events, such as ice dancing, are excluded from these calculations.

You can purchase the book in hardcover, paperback or ebook format at Amazon.com, through the Routledge website, and other outlets.