Spain Women's football team
Last year's FIFA Women's World Cup Final involving Spain and England was the most-watched sporting event on television. Reuters/Hannah Mckay

Fresh research from Women's Sport Trust has revealed that a record-breaking British audience of 46.7 million tuned in to view women's sport in 2023.

According to data and analysis by Futures Sport & Entertainment, this is an increase of nearly a million from the previous record-viewing year of 2019. The viewership counts any coverage of women's sports that lasted longer than a minute.

There was also an increase from 2022 when it came to the average viewing time per viewer of women's sports on traditional broadcast television. The time spent watching in 2022 was eight hours and 44 minutes before leaping to 10 hours and seven minutes in 2023, representing a 16 per cent increase.

Largely to do with the strong interest in women's sports last year was the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. The final of the tournament between Spain and England drew 38.4 million viewing hours, making it the most-watched women's sporting event on television last year.

The whole tournament generated plenty of buzz as BBC iPlayer's coverage drew in 25.7 million streams, which was an increase of 75 per cent from the 2019 Women's World Cup. ITVX also had success with its coverage as there were 15.6 million streams across the tournament on its platform.

Perhaps the most important statistic in regard to the viewership of the Women's World Cup is that 15.6 million people who consumed the tournament had not watched any women's sport prior. A new audience for women's sports was formed due to the tournament, with 43 per cent going on to watch more women's sports after.

Golf drew in interest as the third and final day of the Solheim Cup attracted 3.1 million viewing hours on Sky Sports, making it the most-watched women's sporting event on pay television.

However, football's popularity showed no signs of declining as the sport made up for 74 per cent of the entire viewing hours for women's sports last year.

The next popular sport was cricket, which accounted for 15 per cent of the viewing hours. Significant cricket events that took place in 2023 included the ICC Women's T20 World Cup and the Women's Ashes series.

In addition to increased television and streaming viewership for women's sports, social media has also witnessed a big leap in the sector. Video views for the Women's Super League (WSL) account on TikTok grew by 268 per cent from 2022 to reach 150 million views in 2023, highlighting the further impact of the Women's World Cup.

CEO and co-founder of Women's Sport Trust, Tammy Parlour, touched on the growing popularity of women's sports. She mentioned: "This report points to unprecedented streaming numbers across digital alongside record video consumption for leading women's sports competitions on social media channels."

Parlour then spoke on what the next steps should be, commenting: "The industry needs to capitalise on these opportunities to drive further awareness and engagement, so we can continue to broaden the audience for women's sports."

Women's sport is also witnessing growth in regard to attendance figures at live sporting events in Britain. Added data from Two Circles mentions that 2.6 million people made their way to a women's sporting event last year, signalling a year-on-year increase of half a million.

The report reveals that the demographic for those attending live events includes younger and female fans. Whereas older and male viewers made up more of the viewership of women's sports that were broadcasted on television.

This is apparent with the England national netball team, as the number of match attendees under the age of 45 increased from 50 per cent in 2019 up to 62 per cent in 2023. This is whilst 55 was the average age of those viewing on television.

Also, the three-match netball series between England and Jamaica in January 2023 saw 88 per cent of attendees at the live matches be female. However, female fans made up just 50 per cent of the BBC's viewing audience for the series.

Parlour addressed live women's sports as having a new and rising demographic. She stated: "Women's sport is attracting more younger, female fans which is great news for the industry as it shows we are starting to attract a distinctive fanbase."

The Women's Sport Trust CEO and co-founder added: "The more we can understand the motivations driving their connection with live women's sports, the more this will enable us to build richer experiences for them in and out of the stadium."

Women's sport is set for further growth in 2024 as Deloitte predicts that global revenue figures will surpass £1 billion.