Women received more coverage than men by a more than 4 to 1 margin on NBC’s primetime Olympic television broadcast February 19, 2018. Though women scored significantly more airtime than men, NBC dedicated the largest amount of its coverage to the ice dancing finals on Monday night, which featured mixed pairs.
On the men’s side, bobsled carried the majority of the coverage. All other men’s sports were on the screen for less than a minute each, with curling having 40 seconds and all others 5 seconds or less. On the women’s side, alpine skiing (11 1/2 minutes) and freestyle skiing (nearly 53 minutes in the halfpipe) drove the coverage. A few other women’s sports that had less 40 seconds or less each. Ice dancing accounted for the bulk of the pairs coverage, though there was an additional 18 seconds devoted to pairs curling via the doping scandal.
The distribution of NBC’s Olympic coverage on Monday night was 42.89% for women’s events, while men’s events received 9.46% of the broadcast. The mixed pair events accounted for the largest share, with 47.65% of the broadcast.
When mixed pair events are excluded, the percentages were 81.93% for women and 18.07% for men.
An interesting programming note is that on Monday night’s broadcast, all of NBC promos were for women’s sports. This suggests future primetime programming will continue to tilt towards covering women.
After 12 nights, men have received more coverage than women on NBC’s primetime Olympic television broadcast, but the gap closed even further last night. With ladies figure skating still on deck, the difference in coverage is likely to continue to shrink over the next several days.
Regular updates about NBC’s coverage of men and women athletes will be posted throughout the 2018 Winter Games on FiveRingTV.com. A final report will be issued after the Games conclude.
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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.