Newswise — NBC’s primetime broadcast of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games has highlighted men’s events significantly more than women’s events, according to an analysis conducted by researchers at the University of Delaware, University of Alabama and Utica College.
Through the first ten nights, male athletes/sports received over three and a half hours more coverage than female athletes/sports. Men received 48.5% of the coverage while women received 32.9%; the remainder of the broadcast featured mixed-pair events (18.6%). When excluding pairs, men were shown more than women by almost a 3:2 margin (59.6%/40.4%).
The 15.6% gap is wider than what was found through the first half of the Sochi Games, where the gap was 10% before closing to 4% by the Closing Ceremonies. Still, in comparison to all other Winter Olympics examined before Sochi, the difference is smaller than the average gap found in the past two decades.
Sometimes the proportionality of medals won by male and female American athletes is a mitigating factor, as national coverage of the Olympics inevitably highlights home nation athletes doing well. Sochi featured a perfect balance as the 28 Team USA medals were split evenly by biological sex (13 men, 13 women, 2 mixed/pairs). The split is close again as American athletes have won 10 medals in PyeongChang and the split is again close (5 men, 4 women, 1 mixed [team figure skating]) after 10 days.
“The results of the first week of NBC’s primetime coverage of PyeongChang are a bit disheartening because of the continued press for equal coverage,” said James Angelini, associate professor of communication at the University of Delaware. “I do have hope that the second week will see an increase in coverage of female athletes, with marquee names such as Lindsay Vonn and Mikaela Shiffrin still to race in alpine skiing and the ladies figure skating event still to come.”
Angelini co-authored the book Olympic Television: Broadcasting the Biggest Show on Earth and also conducted this analysis with Andrew C. Billings of the University of Alabama and Paul J. MacArthur of Utica College.
NBC’s primetime PyeongChang broadcast was altered substantially when multiple alpine skiing events and women’s snowboard slopestyle experienced weather postponements, making some nights lean and some nights congested with programming options, which could be a mitigating factor in these preliminary results. The authors will post regular updates tracking NBC’s coverage of men and women athletes throughout the 2018 Winter Games on FiveRingTV.com.
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. Published by Routledge, 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.
Clock-Time by Athlete Sex in the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics Prime Time NBC Coverage (through 2/17/18)
When excluding pairs
*At the time of the 2018 Sochi Winter Olympics there is no women’s event in the discipline of Nordic Combined.