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NBC’s reason for not showing the Olympic ceremonies live is “women”

Michael Phelps carries the flag of the United States during the opening ceremony for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, Aug. 5, 2016.
AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty
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  • David Yanofsky
By David Yanofsky

Editor of code, visuals, and data

Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

In the age of real-time social media and global interconnectedness, it seems incongruous for a national broadcaster to attempt to bottle-up a live broadcast that hundreds of millions of people are watching globally and distribute it on a delay. Yet, that’s exactly what NBC did for viewers in the US last night (Aug. 5), as it does every Olympics.

The opening ceremonies, which began at 6:30 US eastern time in Rio, were broadcast in the US at 7:30 eastern time in the Central and Eastern media markets, and 10:30 eastern time in Mountain and Pacific media markets (6:30 and 7:30 local time, respectively).

Last month, NBC executives gave a number of reasons for why they decided to delay the broadcast, including providing context to the ceremonies, being able to insert advertising breaks, and to maximize viewership.

At the time, John Miller, NBC’s chief marketing officer, said:

The people who watch the Olympics are not particularly sports fans. More women watch the games than men, and for the women, they’re less interested in the result and more interested in the journey. It’s sort of like the ultimate reality show and miniseries wrapped into one. And, to tell the truth, it has been the complaint of a few sports writers. It has not been the complaint of the vast viewing public.

Miller is no doubt well-versed in the preferences of the demographic groups watching his network’s broadcasts. Nonetheless, pigeonholing men and women into stereotypes is misguided, not to mention patronizing.

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