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Leading UK charity, the Women’s Sport Trust, is ten years old in December and is celebrating this milestone by releasing figures, in partnership with Futures Sport + Entertainment, which show the phenomenal growth of women’s sport over the last decade.

2022 has been a stellar year for women’s sport* in the UK, with 43 million people having watched three minutes or more this year, and a total of 325 million hours viewed.

This is in stark contrast to when the charity first started out in 2012, when there were 19.1 million viewing hours and 20.1 million people watching women’s sport.

This year has also seen the most engaged audience with people watching an average of 7 hours and 50 minutes of women’s sport, seven times more than the 1 hour and 22 minutes in 2012.

Part of this growth could be down to the growth in coverage of women’s sport – 17% of sports coverage on key channels so far this year has been for women’s sport, compared to 3% in 2012.

Co-founder and CEO of the Women’s Sport Trust, Tammy Parlour MBE reflects on how the sporting landscape has changed for women in the past decade. “I co-founded the charity in 2012 because I realised the absence of women’s sport in society. For the past ten years, we have been working on making women’s sport more visible, viable and unstoppable.

“We deliberately chose to concentrate on how we could affect change at the top-end of sport, because we knew this would effect everything else underneath.  We focused on elite athletes, media coverage and research which shows the commercial potential of women’s sport. And we’ve galvanized different organisations including broadcasters, rights-holders and media to ensure the sports industry reflects the best version of society.

“We’ve seen a lot of progress over the last ten years and the stats for the past year are particularly impressive. We hope this trend continues and more investment is made into women’s sport, at all levels, to safeguard its move from worthy to irresistible.”

Further stats:

  • 325 million viewing hours for women’s sport in 2022 (up to end of October) – the highest year on record – versus 19.1 million in 2012 and 246 million in 2019
  • 7 hours and 50 minutes average viewing time per person in 2022 (up to end of October) – the highest on record – versus 1 hour and 22 minutes in 2012 and 5 hours and 52 minutes in 2019
  • 17% of sports coverage on key channels so far this year has been for women’s sport – versus 3% in 2012
  • 38% of women’s sport viewers in 2022 were female, versus 32% in 2012 and 36% for all sport this year
  • 7,450 hours of coverage for women’s sport on linear TV so far in 2022, the highest on record versus 673 hours in 2012 – in 2019 there were 3,456 hours
  • 43m people have watched 3 minutes or more of women’s sport on linear TV this year, slightly behind 2019’s 46m – versus 20.1 million in 2012. NB this is the only stat which was higher in 2019 and is perhaps indicative of the change in how people consume sport
  • In 2012 golf was the most watched sport with more than 8m viewing hours. In 2022, it’s football (250.16m hours) and cricket (41.76m hours) which saw increases of 3,538% and 1,244% respectively. Rugby Union has seen the biggest % increase of 5,072%
  • Football attracts a huge % of the audience – in 2022, football took up 77% of viewing hours; in 2019, it took up 86% of viewing hours. Even without the Euros, football still took up half (50%) of all viewing hours in 2022

*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.