The Lionesses’ historic triumph at the 2022 Uefa Women’s Euros capped off a seminal year for women’s sport, and in 2023 that unstoppable rise continues.
In the UK, fandom and attendance is on the up, with more than 20 million people tuning into women’s sport during the first four months of this year and 41.5 per cent of adults surveyed by YouGov now identifying as fans. It signals an incredible next phase of women’s sport, where the narrative should be less about growth and much more about independent value.
At TikTok, we have a diverse community of 150 million people across Europe and a unique platform where trends and culture can be born. Since sport is such a huge part of our cultural fabric, it’s no surprise that TikTok has fast become a home for women’s sport where athletes, creators, clubs and organisations can all share their authentic and creative view of the world. The #womeninsports hashtag, a hub for women’s sport videos on TikTok, currently stands at two billion views.
For us, focusing on women’s sport is no longer a strategic decision, it’s an absolute must. Thanks to a combination of major sponsorships, content partnerships with clubs, organisations and broadcasters, and our work to help athletes and creators get the most out of TikTok, women’s sports have truly found global audiences.
Creating a platform for women’s sport to grow
TikTok is a place for discovering amazing sports content. Whether that’s behind-the-scenes training clips, highlight reels, athlete ‘day in the life’ vlogs, teams trying out TikTok challenges, soccer freestyle tutorials or anything else, the ‘For You’ feed delivers a stream of content that’s fresh and interesting. This is because TikTok shows people videos based on what they watch rather than who they follow. This innovative source of discovery has opened up fresh avenues for women’s sport content to acquire new fans.
As well as being a platform for discovery, TikTok is all about getting involved, levelling the playing field and inviting everyone to participate in our sports community. Each video is made even more entertaining by people riffing on each other’s ideas using our editing tools and special effects, from the Lionesses trying out the ‘make this sound’ challenge, to Manchester City using TikTok’s Duet function to get the community commentating over goals.
@england Wait for Rachel Daly’s noise 😂 #lionesses #england ♬ original sound – England
These low barriers to creation have paved the way for a raft of creators to emerge and find success on TikTok. Creators are at the heart of our platform, capturing the spirit of women’s sport and bringing it to new audiences with authentic content that’s creative, educational, quick-witted, irreverent and self-aware – often in equal measure.
Lia Lewis decided to give freestyling a go having never picked up a soccer ball until she joined TikTok. Now, she’s a Freestyle Football World Champion and has built a community of 4.5 million followers thanks to her awe-inspiring tricks. She has even travelled the world with the Fifa World Cup trophy and freestyled alongside it.
Away from soccer, Mia Baker is inspiring more women to play golf with her down-to-earth content documenting her own journey in the game, while Lissie Mackintosh, dubbed ‘Queen of the Paddock’ by her followers, has become one of the top Formula One creators, going behind-the-scenes at Grand Prix events around the world and interviewing superstar drivers.
@lissiemackintosh Here’s how my hot lap with @AlfaRomeoUSA went down….. 🏁😳, thanks for having me guys ❤️ #MiamiGP ♬ original sound – LISSIE
Taking TikTok’s support for women’s sport to the next level
TikTok is a platform rooted in inclusion and we give the exact same treatment to women’s sport as we do to men’s.
In 2022, we announced a ground-breaking new partnership with Six Nations Rugby to sponsor both the women’s and men’s championships, becoming the first-ever title partner of the Women’s Six Nations. Capitalising on the growing popularity of rugby on our platform, the #SixNationsRugby search hub housed a wealth of rugby content in-app throughout the tournament, surfacing the best match highlights, training ground footage, fan reactions and more.
Scottish star and TikTok creator Rachel McLachlan Irn-Bru taste test, Ireland’s Nichola Fryday being surprised by her sister at a match and English fly-half Holly Aitchinson’s ice-cold side step were a few moments that truly brought the championships to life for me.
Creators are front and centre of our Women’s Six Nations Rugby partnership, taking the community behind-the-scenes of matches and training, educating them about the quirks of playing rugby, and even presenting the Player of the Championship trophy. Jemma Norton aka @theproplife’s relatable skits showing her life as an amateur prop and Amy Humphries’ rugby trends videos give a taste of the rich rugby content on TikTok.
@theproplife Just Front Row Things 😂🏉 #rugby #tiktokw6N #womenssixnations #theproplife ♬ original sound – Luna 👻
The title partnership is helping contribute to the continued growth of women’s rugby. This year’s championships saw a record crowd of more than 50,000 watch England lift the trophy at Twickenham, while unprecedented TV audiences watched thanks to ramped up broadcast coverage. The #womensrugby hashtag now stands at almost 750m views, with 161,000 followers of the @womenssixnations TikTok channel and 2.3 million likes so far.
Building on the early success of our Six Nations Rugby sponsorship and tie-up with Uefa for the men’s Euro 2020, becoming the official entertainment partner of the Uefa Women’s Euro 2022 was a natural next step.
Through campaigns like #AskEngland, which gave fans the chance to quiz their favourite players and get an inside look at the England camp, we gave the TikTok community a unique window into this iconic sporting event and celebrated the Lionesses’ historic victory. Uefa saw 130 per cent growth for its @womensfootball account and the #WEURO2022 hashtag finished the tournament with more than a billion views.
Since that memorable night at Wembley, players like Ella Toone and Mary Earps have gone on to build huge fanbases and become TikTok stars in their own right. Mary’s hilariously relatable videos that get all her teammates involved are some of my favourite videos on the platform and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with at this summer’s Fifa Women’s World Cup.
@1maryearps WE HAVE ARRIVED IN AUS 🇦🇺 #FIFAWWC #lionesses #mearps27 ♬ original sound – Laureen Uy
TikTok helps women’s sport teams grow their audience in innovative ways
Outside of traditional sponsorship and partnerships, TikTok can help teams and organisations across women’s sport reach new audiences using the platform’s unique features.
Burnley FC Women were the first UK football team to stream all their home games live on TikTok – an unprecedented move for a club in the FA Women’s National League. Since the start of the partnership, it has been incredible to see soccer fans rally behind Burnley by tuning into their matchday TikTok Lives, which have now amassed over one million live views.
As part of the tie-up, we also delivered special training for the players to help them get the most out of the platform and showcase their personalities, creating the first ‘creator football team’. This has contributed commercially off the pitch, with a brand-new state-of-the-art gym currently being built specifically for the women’s team and them signing a front-of-shirt sponsor. To keep this momentum going, I couldn’t be more excited to announce that we’re extending our exclusive partnership with Burnley FC Women for another year.
@burnleyofficial more of this tomorrow night! 👏 #football #goals #Burnley #womeninfootball #freekick ♬ original sound – Glitch
Ultimately, our mission remains to inspire creativity and bring joy and I’d challenge anyone to watch one of the many women’s sport videos I’ve mentioned and not feel some sense of joy or an urge to interact. That mission has allowed us to break the mould of traditional partnerships in women’s sport, creating opportunities for clubs, organisations and players to reach new communities and show existing fans a more unique and fun side.
And while women’s sport is already huge in its own right, there will always be opportunities on TikTok to take fandom to the next level.
This feature forms part of SportsPro’s Women’s Sport Week. Click here to access more exclusive content and sign up to the SportsPro Daily newsletter here to receive daily insights direct to your inbox.
To find out more about future themed weeks, click here.