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Women’s sport viewership reached new heights in 2021

More people in the UK watched domestic women’s sport in 2021 than any year previously, according to new research from the Women’s Sports Trust.

Just under 33 million (32.9m) people tuned in, with events like The Hundred and the Women’s Super League (WSL) bringing in almost 11 million new viewers to women’s sport.

The research delivered by the Women’s Sport Trust showed that 5.9 million viewers of the WSL were new to women’s sport before the start of the season. Of the 4.9 million new viewers to The Hundred, 3.5 million had gone on to watch other women’s sport.

In total, 25 per cent of those who watched England women’s cricket or The Hundred had not previously viewed men’s cricket on television in 2021. There were 6.2 million people who watched the WSL in 2021 that had not viewed a Premier League game on television that year.

Chelsea FC Women’s Instagram interactions were higher than 12 of the men’s Premier League teams during the 2021-22 season and achieved 77 per cent year-on-year growth.

The Vitality Netball Superleague streams on the Sky Sports YouTube channel attracted an audience that was 74 per cent female and 26 per cent male and a demographic aged 25 to 34-years-old.

Major mixed events attracted the highest percentage of female viewers, with Wimbledon and the Tokyo Olympic Games also driving digital interest from females.

“Domestic competitions such as The Hundred and the Women’s Super League are the perfect gateway to viewing more women’s sport,” Tammy Parlour, CEO and Co-Founder of the Women’s Sport Trust, said.

“I look forward to seeing the impact other major international events this year will have on future viewing figures.

“We know how important these major events are in growing viewership figures, but we want this growth to be sustainable, driving greater habit amongst audiences, to ensure women’s sport continues to be visible, viable and unstoppable.

“This report also highlights the need to consider how decision makers can help facilitate the growth of women’s sport by considering its strategy of how to use digital channels to reach new audiences, as Sky Sports have done with their netball coverage on YouTube, and use social media to build fandom around both athletes and teams.”

Last week, Sky Sports extended its partnership with the Women’s Sport Collective, the networking group driving positive change for women in sport.

The initial collaboration in 2021 was born from a shared desire to help shape the industry to become a more accepting and inclusive environment for women.

The continued relationship and investment from Sky Sports ensures the Women’s Sport Collective remains free to all members and an integral part of the sports industry.

The network, co-founded by Sue Anstiss and Kate Hannon, has reached almost 4,000 members and includes women working in all areas of sport at all levels, from governing bodies, teams and agencies through to charities, media organisations and brands on a global scale. Peak News

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