Men received more coverage than women during NBC’s primetime Olympic broadcast on Monday, July 26, 2021, with a little more than 55% of the airtime.
The bulk of men’s coverage came from three sports: gymnastics (more than 31 minutes), swimming (more than 29 minutes), and diving (more than 22 minutes). Swimming included Team USA’s Ryan Murphy winning a bronze medal. The only other men’s sports with more than one minute of coverage were beach volleyball and tennis.
Swimming dominated women’s coverage, with more than 57 minutes of airtime, as Team USA’s Lydia Jacoby, Lilly King, and Regan Smith all added to the American medal count. Gymnastics (just under 5 minutes) and triathlon (more than 4 minutes) were the other most covered women’s sports. Triathlon featured American Katie Zaferes earning a bronze medal, the third ever medal for Team USA in the sport.
Though no other sport received one minute of coverage, NBC devoted 9 seconds to men’s shooting, as American Vincent Hancock won gold in men’s skeet, his third gold in shooting and his first medal since the 2012 London Games. Women’s shooting was featured for 13 seconds, where American Amber English, a first time Olympian, won gold in women’s skeet.
Women’s weightlifting received 50 seconds of coverage, as Hidilyn Diaz made history by winning the first ever gold medal for any athlete representing the Philippines. Prior to the last night, women’s weightlifting had received less than one minute of cumulative coverage over the course of the past five Summer Olympiads (the 2000 Sydney Games through the 2016 Rio Games). This included two Olympiads (Sydney and Beijing) where it received zero primetime coverage.
Overall, men’s events received 55.22% of the coverage on Monday night, compared to 44.78% for women. Mixed sex events did not receive any coverage.
After four days, when mixed sex events are excluded, men have received 45.62% of the total coverage, compared to 54.38% for women.
Regular updates about NBC’s coverage of men and women athletes will be posted throughout the 2021 Tokyo Summer Games on FiveRingTV.com. Additional updates will be posted on the @FiveRingTV Twitter feed. A mid-Olympic report, with complete sport-by-sport coverage breakdowns, will also be issued on July 30.
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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 or DVR 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. 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 the calculations.
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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 a detailed overview of Olympic television history. Published by Routledge, it is available in hardcover, paperback and ebook formats at Amazon.com, the Routledge website, and other outlets.