Women received significantly more coverage than men – by almost a 3 to 1 margin – during NBC’s primetime Olympic broadcast on Tuesday, July 27, 2021.
Women’s gymnastics, which contained both American Simone Biles’s withdrawal from the team competition and a Team USA silver medal, received the most coverage at 1 hour and 14 minutes.
NBC devoted 52 minutes to women’s swimming, where Americans Katie Ledecky and Erica Sullivan won gold and silver in the debut of the women’s 1,500 freestyle and Team USA’s Alex Walsh and Kate Douglass won silver and bronze in the 200 Individual Medley.
The debut of women’s surfing, which saw American Carissa Moore win gold, also received more than a minute of coverage, clocking in at 1 minute and 18 seconds. The debut of men’s surfing, which did not feature an American in medal contention, received 47 seconds of coverage.
NBC gave two men’s events more than one minute of airtime: swimming and volleyball. Swimming received 41 minutes of coverage, despite Team USA failing to medal, while volleyball received just over a minute of clock-time.
Equestrian accounted for the 24 seconds of mixed sex coverage. Team USA’s Sabine Schut-Kery, Steffen Peters, and Adrienne Lyle won silver in the Team Dressage.
Overall, men’s events received 25.95% of the coverage on Tuesday night, compared to 73.82% for women. Mixed sex events received 0.23% of coverage (the total percentages after 5 days are above 100% due to rounding).
After five days, when mixed sex events are excluded, men have received 40.76% of the total coverage, compared to 59.24% 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.