Latest figures from the Women’s Sport Trust have revealed that major international women’s sporting events have continued to drive record-breaking audience figures with viewers watching for 9 hours and 58 minutes on average (1st January – 22nd October 2023). This was driven not only by the FIFA Women’s World Cup, but the popularity of golf’s Solheim Cup and interest in England women’s cricket.
The key highlights from the Women’s Sport Trust report, with data and analysis from Futures Sport & Entertainment, include:
- The Solheim Cup attracted record audiences in 2023, with 9.5 million hours viewed, in comparison to a previous best of 6.3 million hours in 2021. The event has attracted the highest live average audience for a women’s only sport property on Pay TV this year
- 33% of Solheim Cup viewers did not watch the Ryder Cup showcasing a unique audience for women’s golf
- England women’s cricketers achieved the highest audiences on record for an English summer, with 7.4 million viewers watching for 3 minutes or more, in comparison to the previous best of 6.2 million viewers
- There were almost a quarter of a million online views (234,000) across Facebook and YouTube for the women’s rugby Red Roses series against Canada, despite no broadcaster showing the matches
These figures mirror other successful competitions earlier in the year such as the Netball World Cup which saw the 3 minute+ reach increase from 4.5m in 2019 to 5.6m in 2023 and The TikTok Women’s Six Nations, shown on BBC, which 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.
Tammy Parlour, Chief Executive and Co-Founder of the Women’s Sport Trust, said: “It’s pleasing to see the growth trajectory in audience figures across a breadth of women’s sport. Each sport is working hard to build and understand its audience and this work is paying off on an international level.”
The report also highlights a fall in domestic women’s sport audiences across football and cricket proving there is still more to be done in translating the international success into week in week out viewing.
- The Women’s Hundred has seen average audiences in 2023 fall 15.5% since the inaugural season, although viewing hours did increase by 14.2% year-on-year
- The opening 10 matches broadcast of the Barclays Women’s Super League across BBC and Sky Sports have seen early season viewing hours fall 25.8% in comparison to the opening 10 games last season, although there has been a decline in coverage hours and one fewer BBC match so far
- Sky’s average audiences for the Barclays Women’s Super League have declined 20.5% year-on-year, although the BBC have seen a slight increase helped by the second most watched WSL game on record between Arsenal and Aston Villa (average audience of 746,000)
Tammy Parlour said, “We have entered a new phase of visibility, the industry is moving past looking at top line figures and is starting to delve deeper. This will lead to more understanding of what is going to work on a domestic level to drive further viewership. Women’s sport could be compared to a start-up and like any new industry needs to be allowed the space to test and learn, to know what is going to work best for this new and exciting audience opportunity.”