England’s victory over Cameroon became the UK’s most-watched women’s football game ever, with a record-breaking 6.9 million viewers tuning in on BBC1 on June 23rd. The explosive game, which saw the Lionesses triumph 3-0, has continued the UK’s fascination with this years’ tournament. However, the UK public appear to have serious misconceptions about those watching the Women’s World Cup.
MediaCom, in association with talkSPORT, surveyed 2,000 consumers across the UK and found that while the public believe women’s football viewership is dominated by women (76 per cent), it is driven far more by male viewers (64 per cent vs 36 per cent female viewers).
The study also showed that the perception of women’s football fans was young, with most supporters thought to be 25-34 (42 per cent) and 18-24 (34 per cent) year olds. In reality, it’s a much more diverse split across all age groups, with 25-34 (21 per cent), 35-44 (20 per cent) and 45-54 (18 per cent) year olds taking the lionesses’ share of viewership.
Finally, those in small towns and villages are almost as likely to watch the women’s football as those in London (24 per cent vs 19 per cent), despite fans of women’s football being thought to predominantly live in the capital (39 per cent) and other metropolitan centres (42 per cent).
More promotion needed as demand soars
The research indicates that a lack of promotion around women’s football could be to blame for these misconceptions. Almost two-thirds (59 per cent) of fans agree that not enough is being done to promote women’s football. Half (47 per cent) think it’s the responsibility of broadcasters to promote women’s football, while a third think it’s up to advertisers (35 per cent).
There’s a clear hunger for not only more women’s football, but women’s sport in general. Fans want to hear more about women’s sport (64 per cent) and three quarters (73 per cent) believe it should be broadcast more frequently (73 per cent).
There’s also a missed opportunity for brands, with half (51 per cent) of women’s football fans saying they’d be more likely to support a brand that supports women’s sport.
Pauline Robson, Managing Partner at MediaCom, said: “It’s clear that women’s sport is on the rise, driven by exciting international events such as the Women’s World Cup – and while misconceptions still exist, public perception is changing for the better. Everyone has a responsibility, from the governing bodies such as FIFA to brands and advertisers, to help to drive women’s sports to even greater heights.”