Growing habits in repeat viewership of women’s sport

LONDON, UK, 8th June — New figures* from the Women’s Sport Trust (WST) show that there was a near four-fold increase in viewing hours of the Barclays FA Women’s Super League – up from 8,830,000 in the 2020/21 season to 34,048,000 in 2021/22 – contributing to women’s sport viewership increasing by 140% year-on-year in the first part of 2022.

Almost a third of the UK population has watched women’s sport in 2022, with 21.1 million viewers from January 1st-May 15th 2022. This is in comparison to 8.8 million at the equivalent stage last year, with the average viewing time per person double that of last year (149 minutes v 72 minutes).

Overall, women’s sport has seen fantastic growth in broadcast visibility and consumption, thanks to interest in the FA Women’s Super League, Women’s Six Nations and the ICC Women’s World Cup, with audiences showing unprecedented repeat viewership. Among the findings:

  • 20% of total viewers have watched women’s sport on 5 or more occasions so far this year – up on 9% on the same period (1st January-15th May) last year
  • 5 times increase in the number of hours of women’s sport broadcast in the first four months of 2022, in comparison to the equivalent period in 2019
  • Women’s sport accounted for 23% of all sports coverage on BBC One and 20% of all coverage on BBC Two, while women’s sport made up 12% of all coverage on Sky Sports’ main event channel, although Sky accounted for the greatest number of women’s sport hours broadcast in the period (1stJanuary-15th May)
  • The first quarter of 2022 was the most watched Q1 for women’s sport on record in the UK, with 15.1 million watching 3 minutes or more of women’s sports coverage, in comparison to 5.06m in Q1 of 2021 and a previous peak of 10.2 million in 2019

The Barclays FA Women’s Super League, which saw a new partnership between BBC and Sky begin in the 2021-22 season, saw particularly impressive growth in viewership which included:

  • 113 per cent more hours of coverage of The Barclays FA Women’s Super League (WSL) on UK broadcast channels in the 2021/22 season (518 hours) versus 2020/21 season (243 hours)
  • 46% of viewers watched The Barclays FA WSL on more than one occasion in 2021/22 – up from 31% the previous season
  • 45% of the viewers for the 2021/22 season on BBC and Sky were female, in comparison to 33% on BT Sport in 2020/21

Tammy Parlour Co-Founder and CEO of WST says, “These broadcast figures demonstrate once again the growing demand for women’s sport in the UK and the increased visibility being provided by UK broadcasters to meeting audience needs.

“What is encouraging to see is the number of fans coming back on a regular basis to watch women’s sport on broadcast, with 46% watching the Barclays WSL on more than one occasion in the 2021/22 season, and a fifth of viewers watching women’s sport on 5 or more occasions so far this year in comparison to 9% in the same period in 2021.”

Notes to editors:

Full report can be downloaded below.
*Data provided by Futures Sport & Entertainment
‘Closing the Visibility Gap’ can be downloaded here

Main presentation slides can be downloaded using the form below.

BBC Sport presentation slides can be downloaded here: