Data continues to show growth and popularity for women's soccer
The GIST: We’ve covered the pay gap and the difference in media rights and sponsorship deals for men’s and women’s soccer, but how different is fan interest in men’s World Cups (WCs) and WWCs? A new fan survey from the National Research Group (NRG) Sports shows a gap does not exist.
The numbers: NRG’s online study surveyed 1.5K American sports fans this month and found that 41% plan to watch this year’s WWC, on par with the 42% who reported watching last year’s men’s WC. The USWNT was also a more recognizable team than the USMNT among respondents: 23% could name a USWNT player compared to 17% for the men.
- Additionally, the study found fans recognize the importance of growing women’s soccer — 74% of soccer fans believe NWSL growth will inspire more young girls to engage with sports, and 70% believe the USWNT’s success will drive more support for women’s sports as a whole.
- As NRG’s executive vice president Jay Kaufman put it, “The success of the USWNT demonstrates how the unprecedented growth of women’s soccer is so much more than a singular moment … affinity towards the USWNT and women's soccer overall is spearheading the significant changes we are seeing in viewership, pay equity, and popularity across women’s sports.”
The trend: And these significant changes are showing up all across women’s soccer. Another recent NRG study found the NWSL ranked higher for momentum than other sports leagues and brands. In 2022, Front Office Sports reported an 11% rise in title sponsors for women’s soccer leagues and that teams’ commercial revenue increased 33% YoY.
- The 2022 Women’s Euro was the most watched ever, this year’s WWC is already making history, and the NWSL continues to set attendance records. Enough said.
Zooming out: As viewership, attendance, and overall interest metrics continue to prove women’s sports are here to stay, the arguments against investing in women’s sports are continuing to lose any traction.
- National interest in pro soccer, youth participation in the sport, and on-the-field results of top-tier competition are all growing women’s soccer as a whole. As the fire continues to spread, brands who don’t add their own fuel just might get burned. Burning one hell of a something.