Olympic Primetime Report Day 3: NBC’s Coverage Focuses on Women; Bjørgen Receives Little Attention

Four sports accounted for the bulk of NBC’s primetime Olympic broadcast network coverage on Saturday, February 10, 2018: Team figure skating, men’s slopestyle snowboarding, women’s short track speed skating and women’s ice hockey. Figure skating received, by far, the most airtime. Women received more coverage than men for the second night in a row, with women’s events accounting for 42.74% of the coverage. Men’s and mixed pair events received 23.30% and 33.95% of NBC’s primetime broadcast respectively.

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When mixed pair events are excluded, women received 35.28% of NBC’s primetime coverage compared to 64.72% for men.

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The men’s coverage was almost exclusively dedicated to the slopestyle snowboarding event, where Red Gerard earned the first Team USA gold medal.

Though women dominated coverage, Marit Bjørgen was an afterthought.  The Norwegian Cross Country Skier collected her 11th Winter Olympic medal, making her the most decorated female Winter Olympian in history . Her accomplishment received a very brief mention in NBC’s primetime broadcast at 10:28pm (EST). Bjørgen’s feats have historically received little primetime broadcast coverage, and this history making accomplishment was no exception. She was not the subject of a feature, nor was she interviewed.

After three nights, men have received more primetime coverage than women, but Sunday’s extended primetime broadcast with women’s giant slalom, women’s slopestyle snowboarding, and women’s moguls all being featured, may close the gap.

Regular updates about NBC’s coverage of men and women athletes will be posted 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.

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* The percentage of primetime devoted to men’s, women’s and mixed sex sports was calculated by a single researcher, utilizing a stopwatch and DVD time codes, measuring (to the millisecond) the total amount of time devoted to each event. Any time spent at the actual athletic site, on a profile about an athlete, promos about a specific athlete or sport, and host commentary about a specific sport or athlete was recorded. Split screens combining commercials and live coverage are included in the calculation, but commercial breaks are not included. The NBC broadcast network East Coast feed was used for this calculation. Olympic coverage on cable networks and live streaming was not included. Network overruns beyond 11:00pm up to the break for local news are included within this calculation.

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. 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. Published by Routledge, it is available in hardcover, paperback and ebook formats at Amazon.com, the Routledge website, The Bookstore Plus, and other outlets.