Competitive Imbalance and Budget Constraints
New Horizons in the Economics of Sport series
Chapter 5: Disequilibrium on the sports programmes market: the gender imbalance in TV coverage and TV viewership of the 2012 Olympic Games
The Olympic Games is the biggest sports event in the world. With the addition of women’s boxing, the 2012 Olympic Games in London became the first Games where women competed in every sport on the Olympic programme. The presence of parallel competitions for men and women is one of the appealing features of the Games. Many studies have therefore used the case of the Olympic Games to analyse gender balance in media coverage of sport. We refer, for instance, to research by Tuggle and Owen (1999), Capranica and Aversa (2002), Higgs et al. (2003), Billings (2008), Greer et al. (2009) and Billings et al. (2010). Generally, these studies conclude that although gender balance has improved importantly over time, male athletes are still favoured by the media. Moreover, the introduction of new events and sports for female athletes did not result in a net gain in clock time. Indeed, it appears that women are not shown with any greater frequency, only in a wider range of sports than before (Billings, 2008, p. 439). The aforementioned studies as well as almost all other studies on gender balance in sports coverage focus exclusively on the supply side of the media market by measuring how much time TV channels or how much space newspapers dedicate to the coverage of competitions of both sexes. Our study is different and original in its approach because it also uses data on TV audiences, the demand side of the market.
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