📈 Growth in avid followers of the Women’s World Cup set to increase by 57%, from 929 million in 2019 to 1.472 billion in 2023
📈 Gen Z fuels digital growth with YouTube (43%) and Instagram (31%) more popular ways for 16-24-year-olds to engage with sports than TV (30%) and TikTok (26%) close behind
📈 47% of viewers are set to follow the Women’s World Cup via highlights and 30% of the global audience will follow the tournament via YouTube
📈 WSC Sports, sees demand for content climb 66% in H1 2023 with more than 3.5 million videos created by clients including NBA, LaLiga and ESPN
On the eve of the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023, new research has revealed the extent to which interest in women’s football has grown in the four years since the 2019 tournament in France.
We recently commissioned a worldwide study, surveying over 14,000 people, spanning five continents and seven countries competing in the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023. The research presents the very latest insights into the evolving landscape of football interest and sports content consumption.
Women’s Football Fandom is on the Rise
The research highlights a positive trend in growth of following for the 2023 Women’s World Cup tournament. The tournament in Australia and New Zealand, which kicks-off on Thursday July 20, is set to see a 57% growth in avid followers* when compared to the 2019 edition, equating to 543 million new fans engaging with the tournament.
Driving this growth, and highlighting the ability of the tournament to connect with new audiences, four in ten (40%) who will follow the tournament avidly identified themselves as casual sports followers, whilst comprising just 24% of the total audience surveyed. Of the new followers identified, 52% are female.
From the countries surveyed, awareness of the tournament peaks in England with 66% of the population aware that the Lionesses will be aiming to win the World Cup for the first time, 9% higher than the awareness levels in Australia, a co-host of the tournament. However, growth in fans following the tournament from 2019 to 2023 is highest Down Under with a 127% increase.
Digital Eclipses TV for Gen Z
The research reveals 30% of the global audience will follow the tournament via YouTube. Streaming services and Facebook are jointly the third most popular method (17%) followed by Google Search (14%) and Instagram (13%). TikTok (8%) has surpassed Twitter (7%) in its popularity among all sports fans, this is heightened amongst Gen Z with more than a quarter (26%) of 16-24-year-olds typically tapping the vertical video platform for sports content.
Building on the growing impact of short-format video for Gen Z, YouTube (43%, versus 30% all ages) and Instagram (31%, versus 13% overall) are now more popular ways for 16-24-year-olds to engage with sports than television (30%). In addition, almost four in ten (38%) young adults typically watch sports on a mobile device, compared to just 23% across all age ranges.
Highlights and Non-Live Content Fuel Digital Growth
Underpinning the popularity of YouTube and general rise in digital viewership is the increasing interest in highlights and non-live content, especially amongst younger audiences. A striking 47% of viewers are set to follow the Women’s World Cup via highlights, second only to those watching games live (59%), whilst analysis/commentary (20%), player-led content (18%), features and documentaries (12%) and behind-the-scenes (8%) are expected to be the most consumed types of content during the tournament. Interestingly, 16-24 year olds displayed a higher than average preference for player-focused coverage (25%, versus 17% for all ages) and behind-the-scenes content (14%, compared to 8% universally).
“Our research shows conclusively the rate at which interest and awareness of women’s sport is growing globally. It also underlines the role of digital platforms and short-format content in driving a bigger audience for the Women’s World Cup,” says Daniel Shichman, CEO at WSC Sports.
Utilizing advanced AI technologies, WSC Sports automates the creation and distribution of video content for over 350 teams, leagues, competitions and broadcasters across the globe, including the Women’s National Basketball Association and the Ladies Professional Golf Association.
“At WSC Sports we’ve seen video demand from our clients increase 66% – with our AI-powered platform producing 3.5 million videos in the first half of 2023. Sports rights holders are starting to see that more digital content equals more engagement and bigger audiences. This is also true for women’s sport evidenced by the fact that engagement levels for our clients’ YouTube content has risen 35% year-on-year.”
“These figures mirror what this research is telling us about women’s sport: the more people watch, the more they want. Women’s sport has a growing and increasingly passionate audience – one that becomes more and more attractive to sponsors and investors, whose contributions can make a huge difference in accelerating the growth of women’s leagues, events, and competitions, globally,” said Daniel Shichman, WSC Sports Co-founder and CEO.
*Avid fans are classed as those who followed/will follow the Women’s World Cup ‘fully’. Casual fans defined as those who will followed/will follow ‘to some extent’.
The survey, conducted between June 22 and July 7, 2023, encompassed a global and nationally representative sample of 14,020 individuals aged 16 and above from Australia, Brazil, England, Germany, France, Japan, and the United States, ensuring a comprehensive representation of diverse demographics and geographic locations.