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BBC – WOMEN’S SPORTS WEEK
Over the course of Women’s Sport Week, in June 2015, the BBC celebrated, interrogated and encouraged participation in women’s sport through a varied and diverse range of stories, films and broadcasting, concluding with the first game of the Women’s World Cup.
From Beth Tweddle on the problems of puberty for a gymnast; jockey Katie Walsh challenging preconceptions in the racing world and Judy Murray calling for more elite women coaches, each day BBC Online featured a guest column and film.
Victoria Derbyshire’s show on BBC2 commissioned an elite sportswomen survey three years after the success of London 2012 – and this original journalism pointed to sexism being still prevalent in national governing bodies and the lack of high quality coaching for some of our best female talent.
The National Football Museum hosted a live debate led by Jacqui Oately, on 5 live, to consider how to encourage more women to work in football.
The week climaxed with the opening game of the Women’s World Cup, with all games eventually shown on the BBC attracting a combined audience of 12.6 million fans – but not before paying tribute to Sylvia Gore, one of the pioneers of women’s football, who back in the 1970s scored the very first international goal for England.
SKY SPORTS’ NETBALL COVERAGE
As part of their ongoing commitment to showcase world class women’s sport, Sky Sports launched Netball Month in January 2016 to drive awareness, participation and coverage around netball.
Netball Month kicked off with a launch at Sky Sports HQ where representatives from all Superleague teams talked with the media. This day allowed Sky to gather enough content to push out daily coverage throughout Netball Month on outlets such as Sky Sports News, Sportswomen, skysports.com and Now TV. Sky Sports committed to showing a live match from every round of the Superleague in addition to both semi-finals and the final.
Netball Month concluded with Super Saturday in Birmingham which recorded the biggest-ever attendance figures at a UK Netball Match with over 8,300 tickets sold.
Throughout January over 23,500 tickets were sold and viewing figures increased by 117% from 2014. Engagement with social media also rocketed compared to January 2015.
As well as focusing on netball at elite level, Netball Month worked with England Netball to promote the sport at grassroots level with projects such as Walking Netball and Back to Netball increasing participation. As a result of Sky’s Netball Month, England Netball saw a 270% increase of unique page views on their ‘session finder’ tool.
THE NATIONAL, SCOTLAND
One of the aims of Scottish Women in Sport (SWiS) at its launch was to increase coverage of women in sport. Following an invitation to several Scottish newspapers to increase their coverage and agree to a dedicated space for women in sport, Richard Walker, editor of the Sunday Herald and The National, was the only journalist to take it further and agree to a meeting.
These discussions proved fruitful and Richard, who openly embraced the concept, agreed to a weekly two-page feature dedicated to women and sport in The National. Richard also agreed that every article would be supported by a strong action image of the individuals featured.
Identifying a resource from a limited budget, Richard appointed a female journalist to write the copy each week, ensuring a good mix of sports and disciplines were covered. He also insisted that there should be a space for the SWiS voice, offering an 800 word column of which SWiS have full autonomy. The features are also online each week, free of charge and are circulated through various other digital media outlets.
The agreement was announced at the SWiS conference in May 2015 and was followed by the launch in a four-page spread on Saturday 25th July.
This regular coverage surpasses all other Scottish (and arguably the UK) weekly papers in terms of women in sport.