UK viewing figures show record numbers tuning in for women’s sport

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Leona Maguire (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

In great news for women in sport, research from the Women’s Sport Trust (WST) has revealed that the first quarter of 2022 is the most watched Q1 for women’s sport on record in the UK.

15.1 million watched 3 minutes or more of women’s sport coverage in Q1 (Jan – March), in comparison to 5.06m in 2021 and a previous peak of 10.2 million in 2019.

Given the success of the 20X20 campaign who whose motto read, ‘Can’t See, Can’t Be’, as it pushed to boost female participation in sport, these latest figures point to a general feeling that the gender gap in sport is closing at long last.

The Women’s Sport Trust has actively monitored the UK’s consumption of women’s sport, men’s sport and mixed sport since publishing Closing the Visibility Gap – the most comprehensive study ever produced into the commercial drivers of women’s sport – at the start of last year.  Current research details how the media exposure and consumption of women’s sport is changing.

Other highlights from the research, which considers the full period between 1st January-15th April 2022, include:

  • Demand for women’s sport is on the rise, with over 17.9m people watching women’s sport in Q1 (through April 15th) of 2022 vs. 6.7m at this stage of 2021.
  • The research also confirms that women’s sport is not only increasing the quantity of viewers, but also that they are tuning in for longer, with the average viewing time per person across all women’s programming being 122 minutes in comparison to 68 minutes at this stage of 2021.
  • 57% of viewers who have watched any women’s sport in 2022 so far also watched coverage in 2021, implying they are repeat viewers of women’s sport coverage
  • 33% of viewers have tuned in on three occasions or more so far in 2022, in comparison to 17% in the same period in 2021, suggesting growing habit with women’s sport.
  • The most watched properties were Barclays WSL (58%), Women’s Six Nations (25%), Arnold Clark Cup (24%) and ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup (13%)

Tammy Parlour, CEO of the Women’s Sport Trust, said: “These encouraging figures support our longstanding view that if women’s sport is made visible, then audiences will watch and validates the commitment that UK broadcasters are making to unprecedented visibility of women’s sport.”

“The growing overall numbers for women’s sport, aligned to increasing habit, is particularly exciting for creating a commercially sustainable offering, particularly ahead of a huge year for women’s sport with the likes of the Women’s Euros, a Rugby World Cup for women, and the Women’s Rugby League World Cup still to come. There has never been a better time for brands to consider investing in women’s sport for the first time.”

Full data from the first half of the year will be shared and debated by The Women’s Sport Trust in a public webinar in June.  Details of all public events are shared across The Women’s Sport Trust’s social media platforms.

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