NBC’s Primetime Olympic Broadcast Features Male Athletes By A Significant Margin During The First 10 Days

Gap Widens in Comparison to 2014 Sochi Games

(February 18, 2018) – NBC’s primetime broadcast of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games has highlighted men’s events significantly more than women’s events, 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.

Through the first ten nights, male athletes/sports received over three and a half hours more coverage than female athletes/sports. Men received 48.5% of the coverage while women received 32.9%; the remainder of the broadcast featured mixed-pair events (18.6%). When excluding pairs, men were shown more than women by almost a 3:2 margin (59.6%/40.4%).

The 15.6% gap is wider than what was found through the first half of the Sochi Games, where the gap was 10% before closing to 4% by the Closing Ceremonies. Still, in comparison to all other Winter Olympics examined before Sochi, the difference is smaller than the average gap found in the past two decades.

Sometimes the proportionality of medals won by male and female American athletes is a mitigating factor, as national coverage of the Olympics inevitably highlights home nation athletes doing well. Sochi featured a perfect balance as the 28 Team USA medals were split evenly by biological sex (13 men, 13 women, 2 mixed/pairs). The split is close again as American athletes have won 10 medals in PyeongChang and the split is again close (5 men, 4 women, 1 mixed [team figure skating]) after 10 days.

NBC’s primetime PyeongChang broadcast was altered substantially when multiple alpine skiing events and women’s snowboard slopestyle experienced weather postponements, making some nights lean and some nights congested with programming options, which could be a mitigating factor in these preliminary results. The authors will post regular updates tracking NBC’s coverage of men and women athletes throughout the 2018 Winter Games on FiveRingTV.com.

A complete table providing the exact amount of time NBC has devoted to each sport, with breakouts by athlete sex, during the first 10 days of its primetime Olympic broadcast has been posted here.

EDITORS’ NOTE: The complete PyeongChang 18-day report, providing the final percentages of male and female Olympian airtime, been posted here.

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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.