A new study from the Women’s Sport Trust has found that there are currently 6 million committed women’s sports fans of at least one women’s sport in the UK, in comparison to 16 million committed fans for at least one men’s sport. Of these fans, just 3% (180,000) were passionate about only women’s sports.

The study showed that committed fans of women’s sports consume on average two hours less per week than committed fans of men’s sports, which in part may be due to the ease of access to the content. Most of the content that committed fans consume is live – 62% for committed women’s fans and 67% for committed men’s fans.

Women’s sports fans – opportunities to deepen engagement

There are opportunities to deepen the engagement of committed fans, with many feeling underserved by the content experiences available and accessible:

  • More than half (58%) of committed fans wish there was more non-live women’s sports content available and nearly half (47%) of committed fans believe it is difficult to know where to find non-live women’s sports content
  • Similarly, only half (52%) of committed fans feel enough notifications are available to follow women’s sports, in comparison to two-thirds (69%) of men’s sports fans
  • Best shots/goals highlight packages, player skills, gameplay and tactical analysis, and player personalities and stories are the content strands which appeal most to committed fans. However, fans feel these types of content are not always easy to find.

Potential to grow the female audience

There are also some clear areas of potential growth for women’s sports:

  • Over two-thirds (68%) of committed fans would like to see greater innovation in women’s sports broadcast coverage
  • Over half (54%) of committed fans agree they would be more likely to watch a women’s live game “if I am interested in the rivalries that have been built up between teams and players before a match”

While committed fans recognised the importance of women’s sports being shown on free-to-air TV, with 82% of committed fans agreeing with this, 61% of committed fans would like to see a dedicated women’s sports channel.

How to monetise the female sports audience

40% of the committed fanbase claim indicatively that they would be willing to pay a small subscription fee to access a dedicated women’s sports-only channel, with fans claiming circa £7 a month would be a fair and reasonable price to pay per month. The study also shows committed fans are more likely to be responsible for the household budget than committed men’s sports fans (70% vs 64% for men’s committed fans).

This latest research comes when the Women’s Sport Trust also reported record visibility figures for women’s sports in the first five months of the year. 22 million people, according to Women’s Sport Trust data sourced, watched 3 minutes or more of women’s sports coverage from 1st January to 31st May, in comparison to 21.6 million in the first 5 months of 2022, and TV audiences were more than double the figures at this stage in both 2020 and 2021 when women’s sport was impacted by the Covid pandemic. 

Download the women’s sports fans report, here.

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Frequently asked questions

What sport has the most female fans?

Globally, football/soccer (22%) is the most-followed women’s sport, followed by badminton (19%), basketball (18%) and tennis (17%). Within markets, there are significant variances. For example, 39% of Indonesians and 31% of Indians follow badminton.

Why are male sports more popular than female sports?

According to research from YouGov Sports, ’Supply-side’ issues are the main factors in deterring consumers from engaging in women’s sports – including low levels of media coverage, a lack of marketing and a lack of information or knowledge about women’s sports. In fact, people would watch more women’s sports if there were more of them on TV.

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