A record 46.7 million people in the UK watched women's sport on linear television in 2023, according to new research from the Women's Sport Trust (WST).
- 46.7 million people tuned in to watch more than a minute of women's sport – almost a million more than the previous peak in 2019
- The average viewing time spent on women's sports on free-to-air (FTA) and pay TV increased by 16 percent compared to the previous year to ten hours and seven minutes per person
- There has also been growth in digital, with 25.7 million streams of the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup on BBC iPlayer and 15.6 million on ITVX
- BBC iPlayer saw a 75 percent increase compared to the 2019 Women's World Cup
- The 2023 Women's World Cup was watched by 15.6 million people who had not watched women's sports before the tournament
- 43% of new viewers at last year's Women's World Cup watched women's sports after the tournament, 33% watched the WSL, 12% tuned in to Golf's Solheim Cup and nine percent watched The Hundred in cricket
- On social media, TikTok drove the largest increase in video views, with the Women's Super League (WSL) increasing 268 percent year-on-year to 150 million views
- Women's Six Nations saw a 586 percent year-on-year increase in video views on TikTok
- Attendance also continues to increase: 2.6 million people attended a women's sporting event in 2023, compared to 2.1 million in 2022
- Ticket buyers tend to be younger and more female than those who watch women's sports on television
Football still dominates the consumption of women's sports with 74 percent of broadcast hours, but other sports such as cricket (15 percent), rugby union (five percent) and golf (three percent) also play a role.
WST research also found that domestic TV viewing of sport in the UK fell by five per cent to 29.2 million people in 2023, compared to a peak of 30.8 million people consuming more than three minutes in 2022 .
The 2023 Women's World Cup final was the most-watched women's sporting event on television in 2023 with 38.4 million viewing hours, while the third day of the Solheim Cup was the most-watched day on pay TV with 3.1 million viewing hours.
The BBC and ITV accounted for 11 per cent of women's sport coverage hours and 77 per cent of viewing hours in 2023. Last year, women's sport accounted for eight per cent of TV coverage in the UK – down from 13 per cent in 2022.
The WSL's video views on TikTok were higher than those of the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) and the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA), making the top English soccer league the leading national women's league on the social media platform.
“This report highlights unprecedented digital streaming numbers and record video consumption for leading women's sports competitions on social media channels,” said Tammy Parlor, executive director and co-founder of the Women's Sport Trust.
“The industry must take advantage of these opportunities to continue to increase awareness and engagement so we can continue to grow the audience for women’s sport and reach fans where they are.”
Parlor has called on the sports industry to commit to better understanding the drivers that drive younger female fans to engage with live women's sports, which will enable stakeholders to create richer experiences for them and deepen their fan base .
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