Levelling the Playing Field: Women’s Sport Comes of Age

England 0 – Holland 3.

Not necessarily the score line that we’d hoped for, but the recent semi final of the UEFA Women’s EURO 2017 football tournament was anything but a failure in terms of the number of people tuning in.  With viewing figures peaking at over 4 million, which was more than double for an average episode of Celebrity Big Brother in the same week, and a prime-time slot on Channel 4, we’re starting to see a tipping point in women’s sport.

The playing field has traditionally been hugely unequal between women’s and men’s sport.  Men’s sport has always commanded more air time, more sponsorship and higher levels of engagement across all media.  However, with Channel 4 broadcasting the tournament and Sky gaining audiences of over 1.1 million for the final of the Women’s Cricket World Cup, we’re seeing both coverage and production values of women’s sport on the increase.

OMD UK’s Future of Sport work last year clearly demonstrated the potential of women’s sport for spectators.  Our work found that seven in ten of us do not agree that ‘women’s sport is less interesting than men’s’ and, coupled with this, over half of the UK’s population also agree that sport is leading the way in improving attitudes to sexuality, race and gender.

Sports sponsorship is, of course, big business across the world.  In 2015, the value of sports sponsorship was estimated to be around £400m according to UK Sport.  Sponsorship offers huge benefits for brands in return for their investment, with our sample in The Future of Sport seeing a whole host of benefits for brands being involved with sports, including connection with passions, supporting local communities and developing a brand story, amongst others:

And with English and British women succeeding on an international stage across a huge number of high-profile sports, including football, cricket, tennis and athletics, brands should capitalise on the levelling of the playing field and ride the wave of women’s sport.

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Sarah Gale

Sarah has worked in research and insight for nearly 20 years and it really shows. She likes nothing more than trying to come up with new and interesting ways to provide insight into how we live our lives today. Sarah loves a challenge, is hugely tenacious and once won the MRS ‘Talent Magnet’ for young researchers. She hopes to now win the same award for old researchers.

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