Domestic women’s sport was watched by 37.6 million viewers in the UK in 2022, eclipsing the previous record of 32.9 million in 2021, according to research by the Women’s Sport Trust (WST).
- Average viewer watched 8 hours 44 minutes of women’s sport in 2022, compared to 3 hours 47 minutes in 2021, marking an increase of 131 per cent
- The Women’s Super League (WSL) was the main driver for record domestic viewership with 16 million unique viewers during 2022
- Soccer accounted for 75 per cent of women’s sport viewing in 2022
- 21.7 million TV viewers, 46 per cent of whom were female, watched for two hours or more, in comparison to 7.6 million in 2021. The numbers were also up on 2019’s 20.2 million viewers
- The number of unique viewers watching three minutes or more on TV was down in 2022 compared to 2019 (40.1 million in 2022 versus 41.7 million in 2019)
- 13 per cent of sports coverage hours across BBC One, BBC Two, Sky Sports Main Event, ITV and Channel 4 was for women’s sport in 2022. This accounted for 15 per cent of viewing hours, compared to ten per cent in 2021
- 89 per cent of new viewers to women’s sport from free-to-air (FTA) coverage in 2021 went on to watch more women’s sport in 2022. In addition, 53 per cent of people who watched Uefa Women’s Euro 2022, who were new to women’s sport, went on to watch more women’s sport post tournament
The uptick in women’s soccer viewership in the UK can partly be attributed to Euro 2022. Tournament hosts England’s win over Germany in the final drew a peak audience of 23.3 million on the BBC’s platforms, becoming the most-watched women’s soccer match ever in the UK.
“To see time spent with women’s sport increasing by 131 per cent year-on-year, and 21.7 million TV viewers watching more than two hours of women’s sport in 2022, compared to 7.6 million in 2021, is testament to our belief that if you make women’s sport visible, then viewership will follow,” said Tammy Parlour, cofounder and chief executive of the Women’s Sport Trust.
“What is also interesting is that there is a unique audience coming for women’s sport, with 1.8 million viewers watching the Women’s Euros, but not seeing any Fifa Men’s World Cup action in Qatar.
“A big focus for the industry in 2023 should be how to continue to build visibility across all platforms, not just TV, as this will help build connection and habit with women’s sport, which in time can then be commercialised.”
Despite the increase in visibility, women’s sport still accounts for less than a seventh of sports coverage hours on key UK TV channels. This year’s Fifa Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand has been earmarked as the latest watershed moment that will help fuel further interest in women’s sport. Globally, Fifa wants the tournament to eclipse the record-breaking 1.12 billion viewers that tuned in for France 2019.