Women’s sports received more coverage than men’s during NBC’s primetime Olympic broadcast on Saturday, August 7, 2021, by more than a 2 to 1 margin.
On the men’s side, three sports had at least one minute of coverage. Diving had more than 29 minutes with coverage of the platform final. Track and field had just under 26 minutes of airtime, with coverage of the marathon and the finals in the 1500 meter, 4×400 meter relay, and the javelin. Wrestling had more than 3 minutes with coverage of American Gable Stevenson winning gold in the 125kg weight class of freestyle wrestling.
On the women’s side, five sports had at least one minute of coverage. Basketball, featuring Team USA winning the gold medal game, was aired for more than 1 hour and 46 minutes. Volleyball was featured for more than 16 minutes with coverage of the beginning of the gold medal match where Team USA won gold. Track and field was seen for more than 15 minutes with coverage of the finals for the 4×400 meter relay and the high jump as well as a look at American Allyson Felix’s Olympic career. Water polo had more than 14 minutes of coverage of the gold medal game Team USA won. Diving was seen for exactly 1 minute with a discussion of the commanding performance by China in the diving events, with a particular focus on Cao Yuan’s performance in the platform.
The entirety of the mixed sex coverage came from equestrian, with the U.S. winning silver in the Team Jumping event, a team which included Bruce Springsteen’s daughter, Jessica.
Overall, men’s events received 28.24% of the coverage on Saturday night, compared to 70.99% for women. Mixed sex events received 0.78% of the airtime. (Total percentages add up to more than 100 due to rounding.)
When mixed sex events are excluded, men have received 42.33% of the total coverage, compared to 57.67% for women.
A final update about NBC’s primeteime Olympic broadcast coverage of men and women athletes will be posted on Monday, August 9, 2021 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.