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Gender Gap in Olympic Coverage Narrowing, UC Prof Finds


MacArthur's Research Find Women's Airtime Increasing


MacArthur, team of researchers chart Olympic coverage

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cleogrande@utica.edu

Utica, NY (03/10/2014)
- A Utica College professor is part of a team who found that, while male athletes received the plurality of the NBC broadcast network’s primetime Sochi Olympic coverage, the gender gap is not as wide as in previously studied Winter Olympic broadcasts.

Paul J. MacArthur, program director of the Public Relations and Journalism department at Utica College, along with a research team consisting of Dr. Andrew Billings (University of Alabama), Dr. James Angelini (University of Delaware), and Dr. Lauren Smith (Auburn University) charted the amount of time the NBC broadcast network devoted to male and female athletes on its primetime 2014 Olympic telecast.

For the 18-night composite of NBC’s primetime Olympic broadcast, male athletes received 45.4 percent of NBC’s primetime coverage, female athletes received 41.4 percent of the coverage, and pairs events received the remaining 13.2 percent. This represents the smallest gender gap found in a Winter Olympic primetime broadcast since the studies began with the 1994 Winter Games.

“The gender gap has been as wide as 20 percent in previously studied Winter Olympic broadcasts,” says MacArthur. “Though NBC once again devoted more airtime to men, the fact that gender gap is shrinking is a positive sign.”

One reason for the shrinking gender gap may be the strong performance of TEAM USA women at the Sochi Games. In recent Winter Olympiads, U.S. men have won more medals than U.S. women. At the 2014 Games, U.S. men and women won the same number of medals.

“NBC had more American female success stories to cherry pick from for its primetime broadcast this year,” says MacArthur. “American success stories like Erin Hamlin and Noelle Pikus-Pace certainly helped reduce the television gender gap. While U.S. medal success is not the only variable that influences network programming decisions, it is a major factor.”

Adds MacArthur: “Though they are not perfect, NBC’s primetime Olympic broadcasts present the closest thing to gender parity in mainstream televised sports.”

Clock-Time by Gender in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics
Event Men Women Pair Total
Alpine Skiing 3:24:24 3:39:23 ----- 7:03:47
Biathlon 0:00:55 0:00:49 -----** 0:01:44
Bobsled 1:38:27 0:59:22 ----- 2:37:49
Cross Country 0:00:24 0:00:13 ----- 0:00:37
Curling 0:00:17 0:00:15 ----- 0:00:32
Figure Skating 2:42:10 5:32:06 5:12:37 13:26:53
Freestyle Skiing 3:04:12 1:36:33 ----- 4:40:45
Ice Hockey 0:37:58 0:06:18 ----- 0:44:16
Luge 0:00:04 0:21:57 -----** 0:22:01
Nordic Combined 0:00:10 0:00:00* ----- 0:00:10
Short Track 1:33:07 0:12:05 ----- 1:45:12
Skeleton 0:16:54 0:55:36 ----- 1:12:30
Ski Jumping 0:40:15 0:00:15 ----- 0:40:30
Snowboarding 2:26:24 2:29:38 ----- 4:56:02
Speed Skating 1:28:40 0:25:13 ----- 1:53:53
Total 17:54:21 16:19:43 5:12:37 39:26:41
Overall percentage 45.4 41.4 13.2
When excluding pairs 52.3 47.7
*At the time of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics there are no women’s events in the discipline of Nordic Combined.
**Mixed gender events were competed in the disciplines of luge and biathlon during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics but were not featured during NBC’s primetime telecast.

About Paul J. MacArthur – Paul J. MacArthur has co-authored 10 studies focusing on network television presentation of the Olympic Games. His writings about sports and music have been featured in several publications, including Smithsonian.com, Skiing Heritage: The Journal of the International Skiing History Association, Northwest Airlines WorldTraveler, Snowboard Trade News, Future Snowboarding, Down Beat, The Houston Press and VERMONT Magazine. MacArthur is program director of the Public Relations and Journalism department at Utica College and heads its sports communication program.

About Utica College – Utica College, founded in 1946, is a comprehensive private institution offering bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees. The College, located in upstate central New York, approximately 90 miles west of Albany and 50 miles east of Syracuse, currently enrolls more than 4,000 students in 36 undergraduate majors, 27 minors, 21 graduate programs and a number of pre-professional and certification programs.

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