National Research Group's study showcases the growing appetite for women's sports
The GIST: Exciting new research on women’s sports audiences just dropped. After surveying 2.5K Americans this month, the National Research Group (NRG) published a study showcasing the growing appetite for women’s sports and identifying areas for improvement.
The audience: Although 79% of respondents say they don’t actively follow women’s sports, many of them are new fans. Thirty percent indicate they’re watching more women’s sporting events now compared to five years ago, while 25% say viewership increased over the last year.
- Women’s sports are also winning over younger and more diverse audiences. Almost 40% of Gen Zers and 29% of millennials surveyed say their viewership increased YoY, while the same is true for 40% of Black fans and 32% of Hispanic supporters.
- As a result of this overall audience increase, multiple broadcast markets across the country saw double-digit growth.
The networks: Within these markets, the NRG found that networks aren’t spending much to air women’s sports — a measly 0.2% of their media rights budgets went to women’s-only sporting events.
- Plus, the lack of airtime translates to opinions on broadcast coverage. Over 50% of those surveyed said coverage of men’s sports beats the quality of women’s sports broadcasts. No wonder the fanbases aren’t larger.
The habits: Women’s sports account for only 15% of respondents’ viewing time, and 74% could not name a single corporate sponsor of a women’s league. However, 60% believe that brands should invest more money in women's sports.
- As for spending habits, 42% say they will not consider buying women’s sports merch regardless of price, while 91% say they aren’t willing to pay to watch women’s sports.
Zooming out: Per the study, Americans’ growing support for women’s sports is obvious, despite the glaring barriers to accessibility. Broadcasters need to evolve to meet their audience and launch a genuine attempt to capitalize on this momentum.
- Women’s sports may be networks’ key to unlocking untapped audiences, including the one all brands are hoping to capture — Gen Z. The generation is notably detached from sports, but may represent some of women’s sports’ largest supporters.