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Study: Women’s sport draws 15.1m UK viewers during first three months of 2022

Women’s Super League and Six Nations prove most popular properties with audiences.

5 May 2022 Steve McCaskill
Study: Women’s sport draws 15.1m UK viewers during first three months of 2022

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  • Data reveals fans are watching women’s sports more often and for longer
  • 58% of all women’s sport viewers are watching WSL matches

More fans watched women’s sport in the UK during the first three months of 2022 than in any other first quarter on record, with 15.1 million people watching at least one event, according to new data from the Women’ Sport Trust (WST). 

The figure is a significant increase on the previous milestone of 10.2 million in 2019 and three times the 5.06 million that were watching this time last year at a time when the impact of Covid-19 was still being felt.

The women’s sport charity says its figures show increased visibility of female properties is helping attract more viewers. English soccer’s top-flight Women’s Super League (WSL) is in the first season of a major new television deal with pay-TV broadcaster Sky Sports and the BBC, while all matches in the women’s Six Nations rugby union championship are available for the first time.


Both competitions have benefited from favourable scheduling, allowing them to attract audiences that would otherwise be watching other events. The WSL was the most watched property, with 58 per cent of women’s sport viewers tuning in, ahead of the women’s Six Nations (25 per cent), the Arnold Clark Cup international soccer tournament (24 per cent) and the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup (13 per cent).

According to the WST, viewers are watching for longer and are more likely to stick around. The average person watched 122 minutes of women’s sport in Q1 2022 compared to 68 minutes in 2021, while 33 per cent have watched on at least three occasions, an increase from 17 per cent last year.

“These encouraging figures support our longstanding view that if women’s sport is made visible, then audiences will watch and validates the commitment that UK broadcasters are making to unprecedented visibility of women’s sport,” said Tammy Parlous, chief executive of the WST.

“The growing overall numbers for women’s sport, aligned to increasing habit, is particularly exciting for creating a commercially sustainable offering, particularly ahead of a huge year for women’s sport with the likes of the [Uefa European Women’s Championship in soccer], a Rugby World Cup for women, and the Women’s Rugby League World Cup still to come. There has never been a better time for brands to consider investing in women’s sport for the first time.”

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