LONDON, UK, 18th May — The Women’s Sport Trust has revealed that the first four months of 2023 brought record TV viewership for women’s sport in the UK.
20.6 million people, according to data from Futures Sport & Entertainment, watched 3 minutes or more of women’s sport coverage from 1st January to 30th April, in comparison to 18.9 million in 2022. This includes 34% who didn’t watch any women’s sport in 2022.
The increase was driven by record-breaking audience figures in the UK for a range of premium women’s sports properties including the Barclays Women’s Super League, the TikTok Women’s Six Nations and the ICC T20 World Cup.
Up to and including matches until 30th April, 15.3 million UK viewers have watched 3 minutes + of Barclays WSL live action on TV, beating the 14.6 million that watched throughout the whole of the 2021-22 season, with average match audiences up 36% season-on-season.
The proportion of viewers watching the WSL, aged 35 and under has also increased 29% in comparison to last season, with Sky Sports under 35 viewers increasing from 20% in the 2021-22 season to 26% in the 2022-23 season to date. More live viewing hours of WSL content has been consumed on Sky Sports so far than last season (7.8m vs 5.9m), with another 15.1m hours viewed on BBC One and Two. BBC One has the highest 3 minute+ reach of any channel airing during the WSL live, with 8.78m, a 34% increase from the full 21/22 season. There have also been 9% more female viewers this WSL season so far, making up 37% of total viewership until the end of April.
The TikTok Women’s Six Nations, shown on BBC, was the most viewed on record with 10.4m viewing hours on UK television in 2023, compared to the previous best of 7.7m in 2022, while 3 minute+ reach was 6.1 million in comparison to a previous high in 2022 of 5.7 million.
42% of fans for the event watching on TV were female in 2023, in comparison to 37% in 2022, with a greater proportion of audiences with children in household watching in 2023 in comparison to the previous year (13% v 11%).
Audiences for England matches increased 17% year-on-year in comparison to the 2022 event, while throughout the tournament fans watched the England team on average for 56 minutes a game, in comparison to 51 minutes in 2022.
The ICC T20 World Cup had record-breaking UK live TV viewing hours (7.11m in 2023, compared to the previous best of 5.77m in 2018) and saw the highest average audience since becoming a standalone tournament and with all games broadcast. England matches averaged 150,000 viewers per game in 2023, in comparison to 138,000 viewers per match in the 2020 event.
Tammy Parlour, WST Chief Executive said, “The unstoppable rise of women’s sport is again illustrated by these record-breaking figures. It is hugely encouraging to see that a number of sports, including football, rugby union and cricket, are attracting record audiences in the first four months of 2023.”
Other highlights included:
- Sky Sports Cricket had more viewing hours for women’s sport than any other channel, including BBC One and BBC Two, due to the popularity of the Women’s T20 World Cup, in the first three months of the year (January-March 2023).
- 21% of viewers watched women’s sport on five or more occasions, based on 3 minute reach, in the first four months of 2023– up from 19% in the equivalent period in 2022
- The Arnold Clark Cup reached 1.5 more people this year, with a 3 minute + reach of 4.6 million in 2023, compared to 3.1 million in 2022
A full look at the year to date will be released in a Women’s Sport Trust webinar on 20th June, marking one month to go until the start of the FIFA Women’s World Cup. This will include a full look back on the Barclays Women’s Super League season, the TikTok Women’s Six Nations and the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup, and a look ahead to the summer of sport.
*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.