The 2021 Global Sports Survey from strategic consultancy Altman Solon reveals that nearly 50 per cent of women in the UK, US, and Germany are monthly sports viewers. That figure rises to nearly 70 per cent in LatAm and Asia countries.
The study gauged viewing and fandom among 18,000 respondents in 16 countries across North America, Europe, Latin America, and Asia. Female respondents were also asked to select their favourite sports league and competitions. Compared to men, a higher percentage of women selected the Olympic Games and men’s and women’s Fifa World Cups as their favourite sporting events to watch.
According to the study, TV sports consumption among women appears to be more event-driven than men, creating an opportunity to turn casual female sports fans into more loyal fans and regular viewers.
Women’s leagues and national teams, including FIFA and the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), were popular among female viewers but often trailed the men’s leagues in interest. Altman Solon believes this is in part due to the relative lack of televised matches and limited marketing budgets to showcase players.
The study highlights English football’s Women’s Super League (WSL) as a potential model for women’s leagues globally. The league is currently in the first season of a three-year rights deal with Sky Sports and the BBC.
“We are seeing significant tailwinds from rights holders and investors exploring opportunities in women’s leagues,” said Ian Lube, partner, Altman Solon. “The FA and Women’s Super League are in the unique position to build a global leader and future powerhouse in the women’s game.”
The survey also shows that top US major leagues and European football leagues are becoming increaingly popular among female sports fans, approaching the popularity levels among men.
In the US, 56 per cent and 50 per cent of female fans selected the NFL and MLB as a favourite league, compared with 68 per cent and 57 per cent of male fans.
In Europe, 50 per cent of female sports viewers in the UK are fans of the Premier League, compared to 68 per cent of male fans. In Germany, 55 per cent of female sports viewers are fans of the Bundesliga, versus 68 per cent of male fans in the country.
The survey also highlights strong international interest in top female sports stars. Serena Williams is the most popular with nearly 40 per cent of global sports fans, while fellow tennis player Naomi Osaka, as well as US soccer aces Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe, are popular with 20 per cent to 25 per cent of global fans. LeBron James was the most popular male athlete at 30 per cent.
Altman Solon concludes that interest in women’s sports will continue to grow as properties, media partners and sponsors invest in reaching female fans. It also notes that recent studies have shown greater fan engagement with brands and sponsors that are involved in women’s sports, suggesting a growing corporate focus and spending on women’s sports.