Study reveals reasons for growth in women’s sport, including television presence and youth movement

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It’s no secret that in 2022 the popularity of women’s sports is growing.

Fans break attendance records. The number of viewers is skyrocketing. And it appears younger fans are the ones whose appetite for women’s sports is growing the fastest, with recent investments in women’s games beginning to drive a shift in fan consumption, according to a new report examining explosive year for women’s sports. have had.

The reporttitled “Leveling the Playing Field” and led by National Research Group, a data and analytics company, not only reinforces the growing attention to women’s sports, but goes even further by asking fans what they think of women’s sports and deducing what their responses signify potential long-term growth.

In the United States, three in 10 sports fans said they watch more women’s sports today than five years ago, according to the report. That’s more than double the number of fans who said they watch less, and around 57% of fans say their viewing has remained unchanged, indicating growing viewership for women’s sports.

The report also revealed that younger generations have a growing appetite for women’s sports: 39% of Gen Z sports fans said they watch more women’s sports now than a year ago.

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What’s interesting is why fans attribute watching more women’s sports. An estimated 41% of fans say they watch it more because there are simply more women’s sports on TV. It’s something that athletes have been pushing for years.

Fans also said they watch more women’s sports now because they consider the games to be more entertaining and competitive than in the past (38%). they learned more about a specific athlete or athletes (37%); there is more press and attention around women’s sports (32%); and women’s sports are more talked about on social networks (25%).

Portland Thorns FC goalkeeper Bella Bixby (1) hoists the trophy after defeating Kansas City Current in the NWSL Championship game at Audi Field.

The authors of this report put it succinctly: “It is not that [fans’] his own tastes have evolved; it is the landscape of sports and sports broadcasting itself. Because it has become easier to find games on TV, more and more fans are tuning in. It really is that simple. The National Women’s Soccer League, which aired its league game in primetime for the first time this year after seeing record attendance last month, is a perfect example.

Having games more easily accessible to fans translates to more viewers, which translates to an increase in the value of broadcast deals and, therefore, the value of women’s sports in general. The more expensive these offers, the more money can be reinvested to help leagues grow.

The growing popularity of women’s sports over the past year has also extended beyond the playgrounds, particularly with a small boom in film and television content. Think of recent hits like the Oscar-winning actor King Richarda biographical sports drama that tells the story of Richard Williams, father and coach of tennis stars and sisters Venus and Serena Williams.

This NRG report is a must read. It dives into specific examples of what is right and wrong in women’s sports. It also talks about what needs to change and what can hold back potential growth. Notably, the report identifies three major obstacles that stifle growth in the world of women’s sports: fans with deep-rooted ties to male teams and athletes; women’s sports do not receive the same level of commercial support as men’s sports; and fans who want to watch games but have trouble accessing them.

As the report’s authors put it, “True parity will be an intergenerational project – and it’s unlikely to be achieved until there’s a new cohort of fans who have grown up emotionally connected. deeply with women’s sport, so the priority must be to find ways to follow and build on this new momentum.”

As we have seen this year alone, much can be done to maintain this momentum.

Broadcasters can continue to invest in programming. Journalists and news personalities can continue to tell women’s sports stories. And policies can be put in place to ensure investment in girls’ sport at the youngest levels – think Title IX – which could lead to profound systemic change that could ripple through to the highest levels of the world. Game.

Follow Melanie Anzidei on Twitter @melanieanzidei

This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: TV presence, youth movement behind growth in women’s sport according to new research

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