Will Women Dominate NBC’s Primetime Broadcast Coverage Of The 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games?

(January 24, 2022) – Women athletes have received the majority of coverage in four of the past five NBC primetime broadcasts of the Olympic Games, say James R. Angelini (University of Delaware) and Paul J. MacArthur (Utica College), co-authors of the book Olympic Television: Broadcasting the Biggest Show on Earth.

The authors will be tracking the amount of coverage men and women athletes receive on NBC’s primetime broadcast of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games, with daily updates posted on FiveRingTV.com and via the @FiveRingTV Twitter feed. The authors would not be surprised if women once again receive more coverage than men on NBC’s primetime Olympic broadcast.

“Team USA women have been winning more medals than Team USA men in recent Games,” says MacArthur. “That’s translated to more primetime broadcast coverage for women Olympians. If American athletes like Mikaela Shiffrin, Chloe Kim, Jamie Anderson, Jessie Diggins, and Elana Meyers Taylor provide compelling narratives over multiple nights, then women should receive significant primetime coverage.”

In 2018, women received 52.2% of NBC’s PyeongChang primetime broadcast coverage when mixed-sex events are excluded, compared to 47.8% for men. This marked the first-time women received more primetime broadcast television coverage than men during a Winter Olympiad, dating back to 1994 when the studies began. The PyeongChang coverage was particularly noteworthy as the gap between men’s and women’s coverage has generally been significantly wider in the Winter Games – sometimes favoring men by 20 percent or more – than the Summer Games where airtime has often been more evenly distributed. Women also received more primetime coverage than men in NBC’s primetime broadcasts of the London (2012), Rio (2016), and Tokyo (2020/21) Summer Games.

In addition to daily updates, the authors will issue mid-Olympic and post-Olympic reports, with complete sport-by-sport coverage breakdowns. A complete table providing the exact amount of time NBC dedicated to each Winter Olympic sport, with breakouts by athlete sex, during its 2018 PyeongChang primetime Olympic broadcast is posted here.

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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 an 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.

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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. 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.