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WSL main driving force behind rise in viewing time for women's sport in 2022

New research from the Women’s Sport Trust, with broadcast insight from Futures Sport & Entertainment, has found the average viewing time per person for women’s sport on TV in the UK increased year-on-year by 131 per cent in 2022

Chelsea's Magdalena Eriksson lifts the Barclays FA Women's Super League trophy after her side won the competition after the Barclays FA Women's Super League match at Kingsmeadow
Image: Chelsea are the reigning WSL champions

The WSL was the main driving force in viewing time for women's sport with 16m unique viewers during the 2022 calendar year.

It was a record year for domestic women's sport, with 37.6m watching it in 2022, beating the previous high of 32.9m in 2021.

The WSL was won for the third consecutive season by Chelsea last season but rivals Arsenal and Manchester City as well as a host of star names have helped contribute to the growing success of the league.

The average viewing time per person for women's sport on TV in the UK increased year-on-year by 131 per cent in 2022, thanks to new research published from the Women's Sport Trust, with broadcast insight from Futures Sport & Entertainment.

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The latest visibility report showed the average viewer watched eight hours and 44 minutes of women's sport in 2022, compared to three hours and 47 minutes in 2021.

A total of 21.7m TV viewers, 46 per cent of whom were female, watched for two hours or more, in comparison to 7.6m in 2021.

LYON, FRANCE - JULY 07: Players of USA celebrate after winning the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup France Final match between The United State of America and The Netherlands at Stade de Lyon on July 07, 2019 in Lyon, France. (Photo by Zhizhao Wu/Getty Images)
Image: USA celebrate after winning the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup

The numbers were also up on 2019's 20.2m viewers when viewing figures were transformed by the FIFA Women's World Cup.

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Women's sport still accounts for less than a seventh of sports coverage hours on key UK TV channels, while the proportion of coverage devoted to women's sport by TV sports news and the print media was even lower in 2022.

Tammy Parlour, the Women's Sport Trust co-founder and CEO, said: "While previously the focus has been on ensuring that women's sport is visible in broadcast, which remains really important, to ensure the commercial sustainability of women's sport we need to maintain and grow the time that fans are spending consuming women's sport content.

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"To see time spent with women's sport increasing by 131 per cent year-on-year, and 21.7m TV viewers watching more than two hours of women's sport in 2022, comparted to 7.6m in 2021, is testament to our belief that if you make women's sport visible, then viewership will follow. The fact that women's sport accounts for 15 per cent of total sports viewing hours on key channels, compared to 10 per cent in 2021, despite only being 13 per cent of coverage hours, illustrates this demand.

"What is also interesting is that there is a unique audience coming for women's sport, with 1.8m viewers watching the Women's Euros, but not seeing any FIFA Men's World Cup action in Qatar.

"A big focus for the industry in 2023 should be how to continue to build visibility across all platforms, not just TV, as this will help build connection and habit with women's sport, which in time can then be commercialised."

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A look back at some of the most iconic moments in the history of women's sport, from the inaugural US Open Golf Championship to England's Euro 2022 victory

There was also a unique audience coming to women's sport in 2022, that weren't watching any men's sport:

• 4 million watched live WSL football in 2022, but did not see any live Premier League football, with 6.8 million watching both. This compares to 5.1 million only watching the WSL in 2021.
• 8 million watched the Women's Euros but didn't watch the men's FIFA World Cup.
• 5 million only watched the Women's Hundred, while 4.8 million consumed both the men's and women's formats.
• 3 million only watched women's matches at the Rugby League World Cup, but didn't see any men's matches.

Here's how to follow the WSL on Sky Sports...

Sky Sports - Thirty-five live games will be available across Sky Sports' flagship channels, including Sky Sports Premier League, Sky Sports Football and Sky Sports Main Event.

Sky Sports News - Running 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Barclays FA WSL fans can enjoy Sky Sports News (channel 409) rolling editorial coverage of the league and its storylines throughout the season.

Inside the WSL - Hosted by award-winning broadcaster and journalist Jessica Creighton, Inside the WSL is a comprehensive round-up of all things Barclays FA Women's Super League and women's football. Airing weekly on Sky Sports Premier League, the half-an-hour show will review and preview matches, including in-depth analysis and exclusive player interviews. Viewers can expect gripping behind-the-scenes access as well as a summary of all the action both on and off the pitch.

Sky Sports Social - Alongside coverage and visibility for the league across all Sky Sports' main social media channels, the bespoke Twitter channel @SkySportsWSL will continue to be the home of all Barclays FA WSL content on Sky Sports.

Sky Sports digital - Follow all the latest from the WSL across and app, including exclusive features and interviews, plus dedicated live blog coverage and in-game clips from games live on Sky Sports. You can watch free match highlights from every WSL game this season on Sky Sports' digital platforms and YouTube channel.

To add all the Barclays FA WSL fixtures to your calendar click here.

To download the Sky Sports app click here, to visit Sky Sports website click here.

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