Time to Unmute Women’s Sport

By Amy Logg

Female athletes make up 40% of participants in sport, yet only 4% of all sports news coverage consists of female athletes. These athletes deserve better as do the young girls at home in need of strong female role models.

According to a survey conducted by YouGov 40% of people said they don’t watch women’s sport due to “Less media coverage”, with the next top responses being “Lack of knowledge about the teams/athletes”, “Limited marketing” and “Cannot easily find games to watch on TV, online or other channels”. Again, proving that the main issue isn’t the lack of demand from consumers, but the lack of content.

While coverage of female sporting events has increased from 7% to 10% in Australia, news coverage has not kept up with the increased interest in female sports.

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In new research conducted by Fox Sports in Australia, the popularity of women’s sport has increased with 66% of Australians having watched women’s sport on TV in the last year. While 49% stated the reason for the increased consumption was directly due to an increase in broadcasting of sporting events.

However social media is a different story to new media. Fans of female athletes are turning to social media to discuss women’s sport, with up to 36% of social media content focused on female content.

Accounts such as the Female Athlete Project focus purely on reporting female sporting news and interviews and have a strong social media following. This online engagement only highlights the disparity between traditional news media coverage and the increased demand for women’s sporting content.

AFLW has seen a steady increase in TV viewers from 2.42 million to 2.78 million between the 2019 & 2020 seasons. While the NRLW is set to increase the salary cap to up the average salary by 28%.

The Suncorp Super Netball league attracted six million viewers during the 2021 season, with aims to increase this in the coming years with its new five-year broadcast agreement with Fox Sports. And with over 1.2 million registered players in Australia, there is a huge market of fans to be tapped into.

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The common argument that viewers aren’t interested in female sport is no longer true. The fans are out there demanding to see more of strong female role models. And with improved exposure, more fans will come.

There is a massive opportunity to monetise female sport, but the initial investment needs to be made first to promote these sports.

The fans will be there, ready and waiting.

Featured image: Female athlete/Piqsels

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