LONDON, UK, 14th September — The Women’s Sport Trust has revealed that people in the UK are watching more women’s sport than ever before on TV with average time spent watching increasing by 28% and total viewing hours increasing by 19%, year on year.
The charity’s latest research, with data and analysis from Futures Sport & Entertainment, showed people have spent 9 hours and 5 minutes per viewer (data up to 20th August 2023) watching women’s sport. This is up from a previous high of 7 hours and 5 minutes in 2022, at the equivalent point of the year.
The FIFA Women’s World Cup (WWC) saw the highest viewing hours ever for a global women’s football tournament with people in the UK watching it for 6 hours and 45 minutes. The tournament also attracted a new audience with the highest percentage of female viewers (42%) and the highest number of under 16 viewers (7%) on record.
Unique audiences are coming to the biggest moments of women’s sport in unprecedented numbers. 11.5 million viewers of the 29.9 million people who watched the WWC on TV did not watch the FIFA World Cup in Qatar in 2022 on TV, with 12% of that audience watching the WWC on 11+ occasions. 8.9 million people watched at least 3+ minutes of any live games in the WWC, Barclays WSL 2022/2023 and Euros 2022.
The latest WST study also found that cosmetics and personal care brands advertised most around the World Cup match coverage on ITV. Previous research into women’s sport sponsorship by the charity has shown the successful impact of recent campaigns such as the partnership between make-up brand Il Makiage and Arsenal Women pointing to a new opportunity for brands to target a fresh sporting audience.
As well as a 7% increase in total coverage hours of women’s sport (to more than 6,000 hours) across Pay TV and Free to Air channels, there have been 2 million people watching women’s sport on Pay TV so far this year, who didn’t watch women’s sport on Pay TV in 2022.
The data also showed significant growth across other women’s sports properties. 6.5 million people watched 3+ mins of the Metro Bank Women’s Ashes Series 2023 (live + highlights on Free to Air TV), compared to 3.8m for the Ashes Series in 2019. The average viewer watched three hours of coverage, 131% higher than in 2019. The Women’s Ashes also brought in 4.5m new viewers for England Women and it now makes up the highest share of total viewing time for a home Ashes with 10%.
Figures show that, in 2023, 37% of viewers of the Women’s Ashes had not watched any other women’s sport, resulting in 2.4m new viewers to women’s sport. These viewers had a higher 16-34 and ethnic minority group percentage than those who had previously watched women’s sport this year.
England Roses securing their first ever win against the Aussie Diamonds at a Netball World Cup and taking a spot in the final for the first time led to an increase in viewers of the tournament. The audience increased from 4.5m in 2019 to 5.6m in 2023. The proportion of female viewers on TV also grew from 47% in 2019 to 56% in 2023.
Tammy Parlour, CEO of Women’s Sport Trust, said: “The visibility of women’s sport continues to grow at a phenomenal rate, due in the main part to the unbelievable progress of our female athletes on the global stage. The most pleasing part of this research is the identification and size of the unique audiences being drawn to women’s sport. We look forward to seeing how this definitive data will continue to attract more investment over the coming months – driving the value of women’s sport up further.”
 Data available from 2013
*Women’s sport covers female specific properties, such as the FA WSL, The Women’s Hundred and the Netball Superleague. Men’s sport covers male specific properties, such as EPL, The Men’s Hundred and Formula 1. All other events, where both male and female athletes/teams are involved, are categorised as mixed, e.g., the Olympics and Wimbledon.