Norwegian Cross Country Skier Marit Bjørgen scored her 14th Winter Olympic medal on Wednesday, thus becoming the most decorated Winter Olympian of all time.
But is that good enough for her to get significant coverage on NBC’s primetime Olympic television broadcast?
History suggests it’s not.
During the PyeongChang Games, NBC has decided Bjørgen’s three previous record setting accomplishments did not warrant substantial airtime on NBC’s primetime Olympic broadcast.
When she became the most successful female Winter Olympian in history earlier in the PyeongChang Games, she received a very brief mention on NBC’s Saturday February 10, 2018 primetime broadcast at 10:28pm as part of larger discussion of a cross country event. She was not, however, the subject of a feature, nor was she interviewed.
When Bjørgen added a 12th medal to her record, which also tied her with Bjørn Dæhlie as the cross country skier with the most Olympic medals, she was acknowledged on NBC’s primetime broadcast within a 27 second discussion of Norway’s dominance in cross country skiing on the Thursday, February 15, 2018 primetime broadcast. Once again, she did not receive a feature, nor was she interviewed.
When she collected her 13th Winter Olympic medal on Saturday, tying the record held by Norwegian Biathlete, Ole Einar Bjørndalen, as the most decorated Winter Olympian in history, and breaking the record for most Olympic medals by a cross country skier, her feat was mentioned, briefly, during the primetime broadcast as cross country skiing received 28 seconds of coverage. No feature. No interview.
She was also mentioned very briefly on Sunday, February 18, 2018 during the primetime broadcast within the context of Norway being the overall medals leader for the 2018 Games.
Bjørgen has been largely invisible on NBC’s primetime Olympic broadcast in previous Olympiads, where her achievements have received little airtime. This year, she has received passing mentions on NBC’s primetime broadcast, but not the coverage her record setting accomplishments suggest she deserves.
Heading into tonight’s broadcast, the question remains: Will Marit Bjørgen – the most successful Winter Olympian of all time – finally receive the NBC primetime television coverage her accomplishments seemingly warrant?
Or will she continue to remain a largely invisible record setter?
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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, The Bookstore Plus, and other outlets.