In a night featuring men’s alpine skiing, bobsled, snowboard big air, and speed skating, male athletes dominated NBC’s primetime Olympic television broadcast by a more than 4 to 1 margin on February 23, 2018. Men’s hockey also had just over one minute of content and five other sports were featured less than one minute each, mostly in montages.
The only women’s sport to receive substantial coverage was was alpine skiing. There was also just over one minute devoted to women’s curling and six other women’s events were shown for 15 seconds or less each in various montages.
The pairs coverage consisted of brief glimpses of American pairs figure skating and ice dancing in montages.
The distribution of NBC’s Olympic coverage on Friday night was 81.25% for men’s events, while women’s and mixed pair events received 18.68% and 0.07% of the broadcast respectively.
When mixed pair events are excluded, the percentages were 81.31% for men and 18.69% for women.
After 16 nights, women have received more coverage than men on NBC’s primetime Olympic television broadcast, though the margin decreased after Friday nights telecast. During the first 10 nights of the Games, men received more coverage than women by almost a 3 to 2 margin. During days 11-15, NBC’s focused more on women by a more than 4 to 1 margin. This dramatic shift resulted in women receiving 55.23% of the total coverage when mixed pairs are excluded. Friday’s broadcast brought the total number to 53.04% for women and 46.96% for men, excluding mixed pairs.
Based on information provided by NBC, it is predicted women will receive more primetime coverage than men in PyeongChang. Such an occurrence would be historic as women have never received more primetime airtime than men in a Winter Olympiad, dating back to 1994 when the studies began. Whether this will actually happen depends entirely on how NBC programs the next two nights.
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.