As the Lionesses Prepare to Roar Again, Women's Sport Offers a Major Media Opportunity
The England women's football team changed the game in 2022.
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On Saturday morning (UK time) England will begin their women’s World Cup campaign in Australia and New Zealand. Can the Euro-winning Lionesses lift another trophy? Thankfully, we are going to be able to find out live on TV, after a broadcast deal was done late in the day. (Saturday’s match is on ITV/ITVX.) That there should have been such complications in covering this flagship tournament is disappointing and the fault seems to lie almost entirely with FIFA (shock).
Already this summer we have had a history-making women’s singles final at Wimbledon and a compelling women’s Ashes cricket series that saw England lose out in gut-wrenching fashion. For broadcasters and publishers, the growth in women’s sport provides a huge opportunity. Enders Analysis summed it up in a new piece of research, released today:
The momentum is in one direction: women's sport is popular, is attracting public interest, and will continue to be an area of burgeoning growth—an opportunity for media, advertisers, and sponsors alike.
2022 was the first post-Olympic year studied by the researchers that saw growth in how much print space women’s sport was given. They calculated that 28% of print space in The Sun and 33% in The Telegraph was dedicated to women’s sport. In 2012, when the Olympics were held in London, those numbers were 7% and 5% respectively.
Of course, much of the 2022 coverage was driven by the Lionesses. However, even if that work is discounted, The Sun used 8.1% of its space and The Telegraph 12.3% of its space for women’s sport.
I have also noticed a welcome trend of major outlets having reporters who solely focus on women’s football. This helps provide much better coverage than having reporters who normally follow the men’s game dipping in periodically.
Author of the Enders research, Claire Holubowsky, told The Addition:
Public expectations of and interest in women's coverage are growing faster than ever before, and the space is primed for innovation and out-of-the-box thinking. Women's sport offers so much in terms of reach, advertising, and brand-building that there are myriad ways for news publishers to move and strategise - what matters is that they act (and soon!) to make the most of the opportunity provided by the Women's World Cup.
It is not just in print or online where there are opportunities. The Euro 2022 final peaked at 17.5 million viewers on BBC One, The Athletic reported at the time. The women’s FA Cup final between Chelsea and Manchester United was watched by a peak audience of 1.4 million, Broadcast reported. It was also played in front of a record-breaking crowd. People want to watch these games and that provides great advertising and sponsorship opportunities, as does the growing profile of some of the individual players. Some female athletes, the report gives the example of sprinter Dina Asher-Smith, already have this celebrity status.
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