NBC devoted more time to women’s than men’s sports during its primetime Olympic broadcast on Thursday, July 29, 2021, by more than a 2 to 1 margin.
Buoyed by Team USA’s Suni Lee winning gold in the all-around, the biggest event last night was women’s gymnastics, with more than 1 hour and 26 minutes of coverage. Only two other women’s sports garnered more than a minute of coverage. Swimming, which saw Americans Lilly King and Annie Lazor win silver and bronze medals in the 200 breaststroke behind South African Tatjana Schoenmaker’s world record performance, had more than 13 minutes of coverage. Women’s beach volleyball had about a minute and a half of airtime.
On the men’s side three events earned more than a minute of clock-time. Swimming, where American Ryan Murphy won silver in the 200 backstroke, had more than 30 minutes of coverage. Men’s Track & field had more than 11 minutes, while men’s golf clocked in at just over a minute.
The mixed sex event was again equestrian, which had 35 seconds of clock-time as NBC promoted streaming on NBCOlympics.com.
Overall, men’s events received 29.71% of the coverage on Thursday night, compared to 69.90% for women. Mixed sex events received 0.39% of the coverage.
When mixed sex events are excluded, men received 29.83% of the coverage, compared to 70.17% 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 for the first seven nights of the Tokyo Olympic Games is posted here.
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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. The NBC broadcast network East Coast feed was used for the calculations. Olympic coverage on affiliated 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.