It’s been a phenomenal summer for women’s sport. Record viewing figures and attendance at major sporting events, new sponsorship deals and television companies battling to secure broadcasting rights – the corporate world is finally waking up to the fact that there’s a huge appetite in the UK for women’s sport.
Household names such as Vitality, Investec, Kia and SSE are now backing women’s sport. Lord’s was a sell out last month, with 26,500 people packed in to watch England’s cricketers win the World Cup and Sky reporting viewing figures of 1.1Million, more than the average number of viewers for a Premier League football match. Over 80,000 tickets have already been sold for the Women’s Hockey World Cup next summer and BBC2 reported over half a million viewers when it broadcast England Netball against Australia earlier this year.
Behind the scenes three sports NGBs have been working together to create a stronger fan base for women’s sport on the back of the three Women’s World Cups hosted in England over three years. The ‘TeamUp’ campaign sees the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), England Hockey and England Netball collaborating with promotional activity to increase ticket sales and encourage increased participation in schools.
Joanna Adams, CEO of England Netball and part of TeamUp’s steering group, comments: “Those involved in women’s sport have been working hard for many, many years to increase profile and attract sponsors and it seems that at last we’ve reached a tipping point.”
“England Women’s Rugby team were phenomenal in this weekend’s World Cup final and on the same day the England Hockey girls bravely fought for the bronze medal at the EuroChamps. The Lionesses battled their way to a European Championships semi-final earlier this year with viewing figures of over 4 Million and the Women’s Cricket World Cup was an absolute triumph last month. Looking ahead we have a host of netball internationals, the Commonwealth Games next year, the 2018 Women’s Hockey World Cup in London followed by the 2019 Netball World Cup in Liverpool. There’s a three-year span which we can capitalise on both from a commercial and broadcast point of view.”
Sally Munday, England Hockey CEO, says: “The opportunity to watch women’s sport has never been better. In June of this year, BT Sport agreed a two-year partnership with the International Hockey Federation (FIH) which sees the broadcaster cover various flagship hockey events, including the World Cup, World League Hockey Finals and most recently the Euros.
“Sky Sports recently agreed to the biggest-ever netball TV rights deal in the UK, a four-year agreement to broadcast the Vitality Netball International Series and Vitality Netball Superleague fixtures. But they face competition from the BBC for rights to show the 2019 Netball World Cup, following the success of the England v Australia game shown live on BBC Two earlier this year.
“Even more encouragingly, terrestrial TV broadcasters have played a big part in this incredible summer of women’s sport. The UEFA Women’s EURO’s were shown live on Channel 4, the Women’s Rugby World Cup Final was broadcast live in a primetime slot on ITV, and Channel 5 has just announced that it will show women’s cricket domestic highlights in 2018.”
To be part of this revolution in women’s sport find out about tickets for major women’s sporting events in 2017 and 2018 at www.teamupengland.com
photos Janos Schmidt