Women’s sports viewership saw record-breaking figures in 2022, according to research published by the Women’s Sport Trust.  It accounts for just under a seventh of sports coverage hours on key UK TV channels. The latest women’s sports audience report showed the average UK viewer watched 8 hours 44 minutes of women’s sports in 2022, compared to 3 hours 47 minutes in 2021. It was also a record year for UK domestic sports, with 37.6 million watching it in 2022, beating the previous high of 32.9m in 2021. The Women’s Super League (WSL) was the main driver with 16m unique viewers during the 2022 calendar year.

The industry will continue to build visibility across all platforms in 2023, not just TV, as this will help build connection and habit with women’s sports, which in time can then be commercialised.

Women’s sport – how much exposure does it get?

Wide-ranging, reliable, and accurate data is needed to help support the decision-making in women’s sports, whether that be about broadcast coverage or commercial opportunities. Headlines from the 2022 research can be found below:

  • the average viewing time per person on TV in the UK increased year-on-year by 131%
  • 21.7 million TV viewers, 46% of whom were female, watched for 2 hours or more, in comparison to 7.6 million in 2021
  • more viewers (21.2 million) watched two hours or more of live sport than watched two or more hours of I’m A Celebrity (19.1 million), Strictly Come Dancing (18.9 million) or The Great British Bake Off (11.9 million)
  • it garnered 13% of sports coverage hours across key sports channels (BBC One, BBC Two, Sky Sports Main Event, C4 and ITV)  in 2022; this accounted for 15% of viewing hours, compared to 10% in 2021
  • the number of unique viewers watching 3 minutes or more on TV was down in 2022 compared to 2019 (40.1 million in 2022 vs 41.7 million in 2019). This was mainly due to the volume of football matches played
  • 8.4 million watched live WSL football in 2022 but did not see any live Premier League football, with 6.8 million watching both. This compares to 5.1 million only watching the WSL in 2021
  • 1.8 million watched the Women’s Euros but didn’t watch the men’s FIFA World Cup
  • 1.5 million only watched the Women’s Hundred, while 4.8 million consumed both the men’s and women’s formats
  • 1.3 million only watched women’s matches at the Rugby League World Cup but didn’t see any men’s matches
  • New audiences that had been attracted in 2021 also came back for more: 89% of new viewers to women’s sports from free-to-air coverage in 2021 went on to watch more in 2022
  • 53% of people who watched the Women’s Euros, who were new viewers, went on to watch more post-tournament
  • the proportion of coverage devoted from TV sports news and the print media was lower in 2022

Download the report detailing the latest women’s sports audience report, here.

Q1 women’s sports TV audience figures?

The first four months of 2023 brought record TV viewership for women’s sports in the UK. The headlines are:

  • 20.6 million people watched in comparison to 18.9 million in 2022. This includes 34% who didn’t watch any women’s sport in 2022
  • 15.3 million UK viewers have watched Barclays WSL live action on TV, up from 14.6 million for the 2021-22 season, with average match audiences up 36% season-on-season
  • Viewers watching the WSL, aged 35 and under, have increased 29% in comparison to last season
  • The TikTok Women’s Six Nations was the most viewed on record with 10.4m viewing hours on UK television in 2023, compared to the previous best of 7.7m in 2022. 42% of fans for the event were female in 2023, in comparison to 37% in 2022

Looking for women’s sport sponsorship agencies to work with?

If you’re looking for advice from sports sponsorship agencies, Strive Sponsorship can help. Contact us for sponsorship, commercial, content, media, operations, investment, and communications consultancy services.

Frequently asked questions

What is the most popular women’s sport?

The Women’s Euros was the most watched women’s sport in the UK in 2022, and the fourth amongst all sports (after the FIFA Men’s World Cup, Premier League, and Commonwealth Games). It attracted 34m people over the course of the tournament.

What are the top five women’s sports?

Football accounts for 75% of all women’s sports viewing in the UK, followed by cricket (12%), rugby union (5%), golf, and rugby league.

What is the most popular women’s sport in the UK?

The Women’s Super League (WSL) is the most watched with 16m unique viewers during the 2022 calendar year.