Women’s sports received more than double the coverage of men’s sports during NBC’s primetime Olympic broadcast on Saturday, February 5, 2022, in part due to weather conditions.
The driving forces for men’s sports were figure skating, with the men’s free skate for the team event having more than 38 minutes of coverage, and alpine skiing, with nearly 4 minutes of airtime focusing on the wind delays for the downhill event. The wind delays in downhill reduced the amount of primetime coverage for men’s sports on NBC overall Saturday night.
On the women’s side, delayed condensed coverage of the women’s snowboard slopestyle finals accounted for 36 minutes and 22 seconds of NBC airtime. (The full telecast of the women’s slopestyle finals event aired live on USA Network earlier in the evening.) Julia Marino, from Westport, Connecticut, won silver in snowboard slopestyle. Her silver marked the first Team USA medal in Beijing.
In other women’s events, figure skating had more than 1 hour and 4 minutes of coverage focused on the women’s short program for the team event. Women’s short track speed skating had more than 8 minutes of airtime dedicated to the heats of the 500 meter race, with a focus on Americans Maame Biney and Kristen Santos. Alpine skiing clocked in at just over 1 minute, with a preview of Mikaela Shiffrin’s schedule for the Beijing Games that included a reference to her relationship with Norway’s Aleksander Aamodt Kilde.
For mixed sex events, the first ever 2000 meter mixed relay in short track speed skating had more than 8 minutes of airtime.
Overall, coverage of men’s events accounted for 26.35% of NBC’s primetime Olympic broadcast on Saturday night. Women’s events received 67.92% of NBC’s coverage. Mixed sex events (e.g., ice dancing) received 5.73% of NBC’s coverage.
After 3 nights, when mixed sex events are excluded, men’s events have received 47.39% of NBC’s primetime broadcast coverage compared to 52.61% for women’s events.
Regular updates about NBC’s coverage of men and women athletes will be posted throughout the 2022 Beijing Winter Games on FiveRingTV.com. Additional updates will also be posted on the @FiveRingTV Twitter feed. A mid-Olympic report, with complete sport-by-sport coverage breakdowns, will also be issued.
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Method: 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.