Women’s sports viewership has risen to record-breaking numbers in the UK in 2023, with viewers averaging almost 10 hours of women’s sports viewing between January 1 and October 22.
The report, published by the Women’s Sport Trust (WST), found that viewers in the UK watched on average nine hours and 58 minutes of women's sport on TV, including events such as soccer’s FIFA Women's World Cup, golf's Solheim Cup, and rugby’s women’s Six Nations.
Audiences watched the 2023 Solheim Cup for a record combined 9.5 million hours, with 33% of its audience not watching its male equivalent, the Ryder Cup, which the WST says indicated a unique audience for the women’s competition. The previous best UK viewership for the competition was the 6.3 million hours viewed in 2021.
Furthermore, even outside of TV broadcasting women’s sport showed growth, with the England women’s rugby series against Canada garnering 234,000 across Facebook and YouTube, in spite of there being no TV deal for the series.
The women’s Six Nations in rugby also broke its viewership record in the UK, with 10.4 million viewing hours on TV clocked up, breaking the previous record of 7.7 million.
WST chief executive and co-founder Tammy Parlour stated: “It’s pleasing to see the growth trajectory in audience figures across a breadth of women’s sport. Each sport is working hard to build and understand its audience and this work is paying off on an international level.”
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Parlour added: “We have entered a new phase of visibility, the industry is moving past looking at top-line figures and is starting to delve deeper. This will lead to more understanding of what is going to work on a domestic level to drive further viewership.”
The record viewership numbers for women’s sports as a whole were undercut by declining year-on-year viewership figures for the women’s Hundred cricket competition and soccer’s Women’s Super League (WSL).
While viewing hours did increase in the women’s Hundred overall, average audiences fell by 15.5% compared to its inaugural 2022 season.
The WSL’s average audience on pay-TV broadcaster Sky Sports fell by 20.5% year-on-year, however, the same period also saw the second-most viewed WSL game of all time when Arsenal vs West Ham drew 746,000 viewers on free-to-air channel BBC.