This year is going to be huge for women’s sport. In June, the FIFA Women’s World Cup is expected to attract 1.3 million spectators in stadia across France and a further 1 billion viewers on television. MTM Sport is super excited about the prospects for 2015 semi-finalists the Lionesses (COME ON ENGLAND!) and, more widely, the opportunities in women’s sport.

The rapid rise in attendance to women’s sport – demand is growing

Women’s sport has gone through a period of sustained growth in terms of participation, attendance and, importantly, media coverage. In the past few years we’ve seen: Team GB Hockey capturing hearts as they won gold in Rio 2016; sell-out crowds at the 2017 Women’s Cricket World Cup Final at Lords; and a record 13,000 fans at Twickenham for England Rugby’s (80 – 0) hammering of Scotland in the 2019 Women’s Six Nations. Since 2013, the attendance for the Women’s FA Cup Final has increased by 800%, partly in thanks to a move to Wembley in 2015. Interest in women’s sport is clearly there – and it’s growing quickly.

Women’s FA Cup Final attendance, ‘000s (2013-2018)

* Moved to Wembley

The rise in attendance for women’s football is not just a UK phenomenon. Just last month in Italy, 39,000 fans watched Juventus beat Fiorentina, and more than 60,000 flocked to the showdown between Atletico Madrid and Barcelona in Spain. Women’s NBA ratings are on the rise in the US whilst badminton player PV Sindhu was India’s second highest earning sportsperson in 2018. This is a global trend and MTM Sport believes it’s here to stay.

Highest attendances at women’s football matches*

* Domestic league and Champions League only

New sponsorship deals are bringing more money into women’s sports

The growth in demand offers brands the opportunity to reach large, engaged audiences. Barclays moved in on the Women’s Super League (WSL) with a £10M investment, and Boots has entered the game as a sponsor for all five national teams in the UK and Ireland – particularly interesting given it hasn’t invested significantly in sports sponsorships before. Two of the top ten most followed UFC stars on Instagram are women (and that doesn’t include Ronda Rousey who left for WWE).  MTM Sport expects to see more brands enter the game as they look to reach a younger, more female audience than seen in traditional sports markets.

Investing for the future: new entrants, new leagues, new competitions

Greater investment enables the professionalisation of women’s sports leagues, which we expect to be the catalyst for further growth and commercial success. You don’t have to look far to see the effects of professionalisation – England as the only fully-professional team in the Women’s Six Nations, dominated the tournament. Professional leagues are enticing new major players into blossoming markets – Manchester United (finally) launched a women’s team as the WSL turns fully professional this year. Innovative new competitions are also being launched – this week the Challenge Tour, Senior Tour and Ladies Tour will compete together in the Jordan Mixed Open – a first as European golf continues to seek out new formats for the game.

So what?

Increased investment in women’s sport is attracting larger audiences which, in turn, will make sponsorship even more attractive. We see opportunities for further growth of women’s sports, given the momentum behind them.

If you’re interested in finding out more, please contact us at MTM Sport – we’ve worked extensively with clients seeking to understand and reach the audiences for women’s sport.

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