More than half of the UK population has an “active interest” in women’s sport, according to new research by Nielsen Sports for the Women’s Sport Trust and England Hockey.
The results of the study, released in the wake of the successful Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup in London, point to a growing demand for women’s sport in the UK.
In total, 59% of people declared an interest in the area. Four in 10 of those surveyed would consider attending a live women’s sport event, while 42% said they would watch more if it was accessible on free TV.
Fans of athletics (87%), tennis (83%), cycling (72%) and hockey (71%) were the most likely to report an interest in the women’s forms of the sports, with football and rugby trailing at 38% and 36% respectively.
The Women’s Sport Trust claims the data demonstrates the growth of women’s sport as a sponsor proposition, following years of investment, major events and on-field British success.
Among other findings was an even male (49%) and female (51%) split of women’s sport followers, allied to a youthful audience profile.
Commenting on the study, Women’s Sport Trust joint chief executive Jo Bostock said: “The leaders from major brands and broadcasters that we speak to have been telling us two main things.
“Firstly, that they are increasingly interested in women’s sport, but secondly, they need more data to help them make a case for investment.
“The insights from Nielsen Sports clearly spell out the scope and scale of the opportunity. You only have to look to the phenomenal example of the Vitality Hockey World Cup to see what’s possible when a top sport like Hockey puts on a great show and is backed by a committed brand like Vitality.
“We anticipate many more progressive brands moving from curious interest in women’s sport, to active investment in 2018-19.”
England Hockey chief executive Sally Munday added: “We are very excited about beginning to realise the commercial opportunity of women’s hockey.
“Buoyed by the tremendous success of the national team, the Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup has delivered sell-out crowds, significant media interest and a suite of consumer brands aligning with the sport.
“This provides the perfect platform to launch the FIH Pro League in 2019, a global, annual tournament which will be game-changing for our sport.
Lynsey Douglas, global leader for Women’s Sport at Nielsen Sports said: “The commercial opportunity in women’s sport is growing at pace.
“Audiences are up and there is an increasing interest among the general population in the UK, across a number of sports. All the indicators point to it being a very good time to invest in women’s sport.”
Nielsen is working with the Women’s Sport Trust and England Hockey on a project to provide evidence of the value of women’s sport. A global Nielsen study is set to launch this summer, which will provide insight for commercial investment in the sector.