A Multifaceted Examination of Olympic Television
Every two years, NBC dominates 17 nights of primetime television with its Olympic programming. With each passing Olympiad, NBC’s television coverage becomes bigger, more complex, and more sophisticated. Part sporting event, part reality show, and part global festival, the Olympics are both intensely nationalistic and a celebration of international community.
But, how does NBC broadcast the Games? How do factors such as athlete sex, nationality, and race impact NBC’s coverage? How do NBC employees perceive and describe their experiences televising the Olympics? How did the Olympics develop into a ratings blockbuster? What is the future of Olympic television in the United States?
Olympic Television: Broadcasting The Biggest Show on Earth sheds new light on these questions and many more. The book is an examination of how the Olympic experience is shaped by television through the analysis of 20 years worth of Olympic television content, with NBC’s coverage of the 2016 Rio Games serving as a central case study. This analysis includes:
• Top 10 lists of the most mentioned athletes in every Olympiad from to 1996-2016.
• Comparisons in the amount of primetime coverage male and female athletes received in every Olympiad from 1996-2016. This analysis is broken down sport by sport.
• An examination of the descriptors used by Olympic television announcers to describe the success, failure, personality and physicality of Olympic athletes. These comparisons are broken down by athlete sex, nationality (American vs. non-American) and race/ethnicity.
This information is augmented by interviews with the following NBC personnel and sports media experts:
• Bob Costas, Anchor, Former Host of NBC’s Primetime Olympic Broadcasts
• Mark Lazarus, Chairman, NBC Broadcasting & Sports
• Jim Bell, Executive Producer, NBC Olympics
• Rebecca Chatman, Primetime Producer, NBC Olympics
• Joe Gesue, Senior Vice President, Production, NBC Olympics & Executive Editor, NBC Sports Group
• Mary Carillo, Olympic Correspondent and Tennis Analyst, NBC Olympics
• Tom Hammond, Track & Field Play-by-Play Announcer, NBC Sports
• Annika Sörenstam, Golf Channel Analyst
• Howard Berkes, National Public Radio Correspondent
• Richard Sandomir, New York Times Reporter
• Philip Hersh, Globetrotting by Phil Hersh
• Paulsen, Sports Media Watch
Through the use of interviews, longitudinal content analyses, audience surveys, and historical research, Olympic Television is an exploration of the production, influence, and significance of Olympic media in contemporary society. The book provides a window into the entire Olympic television process from production to content to effects.
Touching on key themes such as race, gender, history, consumerism, identity, nationalism, and storytelling, Olympic Television: Broadcasting the Biggest Show on Earth is fascinating reading for anyone interested in sport, media, and the global mega-event that is the Olympic Games.