Women’s sports draws 20.6m UK viewers in first four months of 2024

More than 20 million viewers in the UK watched three minutes or more of women’s sport coverage during the first four months of 2024, according to the Women’s Sport Trust.

Source: Women’s Sport Trust / Credit: Getty Images

The Women’s Sport Trust report, with data from Futures Sport & Entertainment, revealed from January 1 to April 30  TV viewing for women’s sport in the UK was at record level.

Audiences for women’s sport climbed from 20.6 million in 2023 to 20.9 million. The organisation said the increase was driven by more coverage hours on pay TV channels like Sky Sports & TNT Sports, as well as more prominence on free-to-air channels like BBC1 and ITV 1.

It found increased fee-to-air coverage of women’s football and rugby, attracted 6.3 million viewers who were new to women’s sport this year, having not watched any women’s sport in 2023.

The report showed the Women’s Six Nations pulled in more viewers than ever tuned in across the tournament. The title decider between France and England earned an average audience of 1.3 million and a peak of 1.9 million on BBC One.

During the Women’s Super League (BWSL), shown on Sky and BBC, live viewing hours, a combination of hours broadcast and average viewers, were up 10% to 31.6 million.

The Women’s Sport Trust said Sky’s returning strategy of simulcasting the games on its basic entertainment channels, Sky Showcase and Sky Max,  helped boost viewing numbers.

According to the report, the FA Cup final earned an average of 537,000 viewers, an increase of 10% on last year’s 489k average. Initial viewing figures from last’s week final showed a 3% year on year rise in live match time viewing with nearly 2 million people tuning in.

Finding revealed the Women’s Six Nations, shown on BBC was the most viewed on record with 8.1m tuning in for three minutes or more, 33% more than in 2023. Viewing hours were up from 10 million last year to 13 million. Games featuring England were most popular, with a 42% rise in viewership year on year.

Tammy Parlour, Women’s Sport Trust Chief Executive, said: “It’s been another strong start to the year for women’s sport. However, it is not a given that this will continue, particularly with the Lionesses not competing in a major women’s football tournament this year.  We’re still in a test-and-learn phase, and broadcasters are being rewarded for their decision to give women’s sport more airtime and greater prominence. With millions of new viewers still coming through we have clear evidence of a growing and engaged fanbase.”

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