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Study: UK women’s sports viewership up sevenfold since 2012

Annual average viewing time per person in 2022 close to eight hours.

7 December 2022 Josh Sim

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  • 325m viewing hours spent watching women’s sport in UK this year
  • Soccer made up 77% of total viewing hours for women’s sport in UK

The amount of women’s sport watched on average by the UK public is seven times bigger than in 2012, according to a study from the Women’s Sport Trust (WST).

The organisation has found that this year’s average viewing time per person for women’s sport is at seven hours and 50 minutes, up to the end of October. This marks a significant increase compared to a decade ago, when an average time of an hour and 22 minutes was spent by people watching women’s sport.

In total, 325 million viewing hours were spent watching women’s sport in 2022 – the highest ever on record. By contrast, sports fans consumed just 19.1 million hours of women’s sport in 2012.

In terms of which women’s sports were seen the most in 2022, the survey found that the most popular sport was soccer, racking up 250.16 million viewing hours, which represents a 3,538 per cent increase on its 2012 total. Indeed, soccer was found to take up 77 per cent of the total viewing hours for women’s sport this year, with the proportion still at 50 per cent when taking away the hours spent watching the Uefa Women’s Euro 2022, which was shown exclusively by the BBC.

Soccer was well-clear of the next-ranked sport in cricket, which gained 41.76 million viewing hours. The sport with the biggest increase in hours since 2012 was found to be rugby union, as its viewing hours were boosted by 5,072 per cent.

The WST also found that key channels broadcast almost six times more women’s sport than ten years ago, with 17 per cent of this year’s sports coverage comprising of women’s sport. Furthermore, 7,450 hours of devoted women’s sport coverage were aired on linear TV in the UK – the highest tally on record.

With broadcasters willing to make women’s sport more visible this year, it has been estimated that 43 million people saw at least three minutes of women’s sport on linear TV. As well as the Women’s Euro 2022 soccer tournament, major competitions such as the Rugby League World Cup 2021 and The Hundred were also made available to watch on free-to-air broadcast channels.

It represented more than double 2012’s total, which saw 20.1 million people watch three minutes or more of women’s sport on TV.

“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,” said Tammy Parlour, WST chief executive and co-founder.

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