Why Women Are The Reason The Olympics Opening Ceremony Wasn't Broadcast Live

rio summer olympics opening ceremony

A few weeks ago, NBC made headlines when the network opted not to air the 2016 Olympics Opening Ceremony live. The news wasn't hugely surprising, considering NBC has made similar editing moves in the past, but it was still disheartening for some Olympics viewers, because many other countries were airing the Opening Ceremony live, allowing for worldwide interactivity on social media outlets. If you wondered whether NBC feels bad about the decision the network made, the answer is a resounding, "No." In fact, NBC's Chief Marketing Officer John Miller said women were the reason that the network made the decision it did. Here's his full comment:

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.

I don't even know where to begin with this comment, which comes to us via Philly. It's hard as a woman who is also a sports fan to see a comment like this and not feel at least a little frustration. There are certainly differences between men and women that have been known to be generalized throughout history, but to act like men are not interested in the Olympics and that women only care about the glitz and drama and not the sports themselves seems very short-sighted, or at least is not engaging with the whole picture in a meaningful way.

Probably Miller is right that the largest demographic to watch the summer Olympics Opening Ceremony has traditionally been women and not men. Perhaps the network does feel as if the Olympics Opening Ceremony should be more like a reality show. If the network does feel that way, it's easy to see why it made the decision it did and why the network then defended its decision. But that's not a reason to sit there and generalize your entire viewing audience. He could've just said, "Hey, we've done research and a good percentage of our viewing audience would prefer to actually not watch the event live."

Instead, he basically lumped the audience into one big box, stating that only women like the Olympics and they actually don't care about the sports themselves. So, all of the millions of NBC viewers who are dudes who like the Olympics and all of the women who might have totally preferred to catch the event live (and do care about more than fancy editing tricks that make the Olympics like "reality TV") were totally discounted here. I'm sure what he was trying to say was a lot more nuanced and thoughtful, but what came out of his mouth has left a lot of fans annoyed.

The good news? The opening ceremony was still pretty fun to watch--and not overly dramatic or anything, even if it was on a time delay. You can catch more Olympics events on NBC over the next couple of weeks.

Jessica Rawden
Managing Editor

Reality TV fan with a pinch of Disney fairy dust thrown in. Theme park junkie. If you’ve created a rom-com I’ve probably watched it.