Women’s sport has grown in prominence thanks to the rise of digital platforms and this is set to accelerate. In fact, 94 per cent of industry professionals are primed to increase investment in the creation, production and distribution of content, according to research from Imagen, the SaaS video management platform business.
The survey of more than 300 senior sports industry executives found that this development is predominately being motivated by commercial interest (29 per cent) and new opportunities for digital distribution (25 per cent).
Social media platforms are proving the most popular way for audiences to engage with women’s sport, accounting for 52 per cent of all interest and engagement with the content. When asked which two platforms are driving the most interest and engagement with women’s sports, Instagram (59 per cent) and Facebook (44 per cent) were revealed to be top by those surveyed. This echoes the fact that 84 per cent of women’s sport output partly uses digital or social platforms, with 36 per cent using them exclusively, while only 2 per cent solely use broadcast.
“To satisfy and capitalise on evolving audience demand for women’s sport, sports federations, governing bodies, leagues and clubs need to ensure they can meet these needs and make the content easily accessible,” commented Will Pitt, Head of Sport, Imagen.
Almost two-thirds (62 per cent) of senior sports industry executives said they expect more of their women’s sports content to be distributed via OTT platforms and social media in the future. Similarly, almost half (46 per cent) say their organisation is investing or planning to invest in the launch of a dedicated direct-to-consumer (DTC) streaming product, thereby increasing access to women’s sport. The DTC trend has gathered momentum in recent years, particularly among niche sports, with a number of sports federations creating their own platforms to share content and reach wider audiences.
“Changes in viewing habits mean viewers are not just relying on broadcasters to air the content they want to watch on TV, evidenced by the 433 million views on the official FIFA Women’s World Cup digital channels this year,” added Pitt. “2019 has been a significant year for women’s sport in terms of exposure, viewership and growth. Crucially, younger, digitally savvy audiences are helping to fuel this rise.”