Women’s sports received just over 54 percent of the coverage, when mixed sex sports are excluded, during NBC’s primetime Olympic broadcast on Tuesday, February 8, 2022.
The coverage in the men’s events was driven by freestyle skiing with more than 57 minutes of airtime centered on the Big Air final where Team USA’s Colby Stevenson won a silver medal. Men’s figure skating had 8 minutes of coverage as NBC replayed the short program by Team USA’s Nathan Chen that set a world record. NBC also discussed of the previous night’s competition. Men’s snowboarding had 3 minutes of coverage with a discussion about Team USA’s Shaun White competing in the halfpipe qualifier later in the day.
Three women’s events earned more than 1 minute of coverage: snowboarding, alpine skiing and cross country skiing. Snowboarding coverage, with more than 33 minutes of airtime, focused on the halfpipe qualifiers, where Team USA’s Chloe Kim garnered the top score. Alpine skiing had more than 28 minutes of airtime, with a focus on the slalom. A fall by Team USA’s Mikaela Shiffrin became the centerpiece of the slalom coverage. Women’s cross country had more than 19 minutes of airtime, as Team USA’s Jessie Diggins’s bronze marked the first time an American has won a medal in the sprint. The bronze medal also made Diggins the only American to win two Olympic medals in cross country skiing, surpassing Kikkan Randall (with whom she won gold in the Team Sprint in 2018) and Bill Koch (who won silver in the 30 kilometer event in 1976).
Overall, coverage of men’s events accounted for 45.77% of NBC’s primetime Olympic broadcast. Women’s events received 53.76% of NBC’s coverage. Mixed sex events (e.g., ice dancing) received 0.47% of NBC’s coverage.
After 6 nights, when mixed sex events are excluded, men’s events have received 43.45% of NBC’s primetime broadcast coverage compared to 56.55% 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.