The Women’s Super League (WSL), the top-tier soccer competition in England, achieved a “four-fold” increase in television viewership in the 2021-22 season, according to research by the Women’s Sport Trust (WST) charity.

New figures from the WST revealed that viewing hours of the WSL were up from 8.8 million in the 2020-21 season to 34 million in 2021-22.

The organization said this contributed to women’s sport viewership increasing by 140% year on year in the first part of 2022.

The 2021-22 WSL campaign was the first under a new broadcast deal with pay-TV giant Sky and the BBC, the public service broadcaster.

The exposure on the respective broadcasters led to 113% more hours of coverage of the WSL on UK channels (518 hours) compared to the previous year (243 hours).

The WST report found that 46% of viewers watched the top domestic women’s competition on more than one occasion in 2021-22, up from 31% the previous season. It also found that 45% of the viewers on BBC and Sky were female, compared to 33% on BT Sport in the prior campaign.

How well do you really know your competitors?

Access the most comprehensive Company Profiles on the market, powered by GlobalData. Save hours of research. Gain competitive edge.

Company Profile – free sample

Thank you!

Your download email will arrive shortly

Not ready to buy yet? Download a free sample

We are confident about the unique quality of our Company Profiles. However, we want you to make the most beneficial decision for your business, so we offer a free sample that you can download by submitting the below form

By GlobalData
Visit our Privacy Policy for more information about our services, how we may use, process and share your personal data, including information of your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications. Our services are intended for corporate subscribers and you warrant that the email address submitted is your corporate email address.

Overall, the WST research outlined that almost a third of the UK population watched women’s sport in 2022, with 21.1 million viewers from January 1 to May 15.

This is in comparison to 8.8 million at the equivalent stage last year, with the average viewing time per person double that of 2021 (149 minutes to 72 minutes).

Along with the WSL, rugby union’s Women’s Six Nations and cricket’s ICC Women’s World Cup contributed to the figures.

According to the WST, there was a five-fold increase in the number of hours of women’s sport broadcast in the first four months of 2022 compared to the same period in 2019.

Women’s sport accounted for 23% of all sports coverage on BBC One and 20% of all coverage on BBC Two, while women’s sport made up 12% of all coverage on Sky Sports’ main event channel, although Sky accounted for the greatest number of women’s sport hours broadcast in the period between January and May.

The first quarter of 2022 was the most-watched Q1 for women’s sport on record in the UK, with 15.1 million watching three minutes or more of women’s sports coverage. In Q1 of 2021, that figure was 5 million, while the previous high was 10.2 million in 2019.

Tammy Parlour co-founder and chief executive of the WST, said: “These broadcast figures demonstrate once again the growing demand for women’s sport in the UK and the increased visibility being provided by UK broadcasters to meeting audience needs.

“What is encouraging to see is the number of fans coming back on a regular basis to watch women’s sport on broadcast, with 46% watching the WSL on more than one occasion in the 2021-22 season, and a fifth of viewers watching women’s sport on five or more occasions so far this year in comparison to 9% in the same period in 2021.”

Earlier this year, the WST revealed that almost 33 million UK viewers watched some form of domestic women’s sport in 2021.

Of the record-breaking 32.9 million viewers, The Hundred, the new short-form domestic cricket competition that launched last year, and the WSL led the way, together bringing in just shy of 11 million new viewers.