Women’s Olympic sports have dominated NBC’s primetime coverage of the Rio games this summer, with nearly 60 percent of the competition time shown by the network focusing on women’s events compared with a little more than 40 percent of the coverage devoted to men’s sports, according to researchers focusing on how the network covers the Olympic Games. Gymnastics and women’s beach volleyball have both earned nearly three hours each of screen time in primetime broadcasts, which the researchers said did raise questions about whether the coverage could be viewed as sexist.
“We’d be naive if we didn’t acknowledge that the sports they are showing, a lot of them involve women in swimsuits and leotards,” said Andy Billings, a sports media professor at the University of Alabama.
But the coverage may also have something to do with the number of medals won by each gender. As of Monday, U.S. women had won 36 medals in this year’s games, 16 of them gold medals, while U.S. men had won 32 medals, nine of them gold. Billings also said said that while sports showing women in swimsuits appeals to men, it also doesn’t turn off female viewers, while other sports such as boxing do not appeal to both genders and therefore don’t earn prime time coverage.
Rio isn’t the first Olympic games to feature more women than men on TV — that happened during the London games in 2012 — but the margin is wider than it has ever been, the researchers said. Billings said he expects that gap to close a bit by the end of this week’s competitions.
Read the full story from The Associated Press.