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Visibility key to UK women’s sport breaking £1bn

The projections were released today by the Women’s Sport Trust as part of Closing the Visibility Gap, the most comprehensive study into the commercial drivers of women’s sport in the UK. Two Circles was commissioned by the Women’s Sports Trust to undertake the research and analysis.

Closing the Visibility Gap found that existing interest in women’s sport is strong, with two-thirds of UK sport fans currently following some form of women’s sport. However, the sports industry has underinvested in making female athletes visible in ways that resonate with fans; in creating meaningful interactions for partners; and in building prestige for women’s sport overall.

For example, more than 80% of UK women’s sport fans feel major events and TV broadcasts have been important factors behind following women’s sport. But currently over a third (36%) of women’s sport only use digital channels to broadcast their sport.

The study also found other areas of potential growth:

  • Only 25% of UK sports fans who follow women’s sport do so actively
  • Images of athletes in action are 12% more likely to prompt someone to find out more about the sport than images of athletes in a personal or entertainment setting
  • Of major sports in the UK, netball and tennis are the only two that have more than 50% of female players who also classify themselves as fans
  • Across sports played separately by men and women, the average gap between the percentage of known men’s and women’s ticket purchasers is 23% according to Two Circles benchmarks.

Tammy Parlour MBE, Chief Executive and Co-Founder of the Women’s Sport Trust, said: “To achieve long-lasting change, and for women’s sport to occupy a central role in our culture in the UK, the sports industry must widely recognise a social responsibility to building sport for all, and practically connect a vision for women’s sport to long-term commercial profit.

“We hope this research can play a role in supporting all sport industry stakeholders in this endeavor, helping them present female athletes and teams in ways that resonate with fans, create meaningful interactions for partners, and build success for women’s sport overall.”

Closing the Visibility Gap is the result of the largest nationally representative survey of UK women’s sport fans; hundreds of hours of one-to-one interviews with sport executives from leading sport governing bodies, teams, broadcasters, sponsors and athletes; and a comprehensive audit of women’s sports coverage on owned and earned digital media channels.

The full study can be downloaded here and includes bespoke toolkits for all major stakeholders in sport; rights-owners, athletes, brands and media to improve and optimise their promotion and investment in women’s sport.

* Total revenue attributed to women’s sports events held in the UK through ticket, broadcast rights and sponsorship sales

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