The great divide – exploring the gender gap in sports viewership
March 10th, 2023, Kineree Shah

The great divide – exploring the gender gap in sports viewership

The realm of sports has recently witnessed a significant surge in the recognition of women's sports, with India's Women's Premier League (WPL) securing media rights worth a staggering $700 million, ranking it second only to the WNBA in terms of broadcast value.

In early 2022, the Women's Sports Network was launched, aimed at promoting and supporting women's sports through an ad-supported streaming service. Despite these promising developments, our data suggests that there still remains a considerable gender disparity in sports viewership as well as participation.

According to a YouGov poll conducted across 18 international markets, men are far more likely than women to have watched professional men’s sports (58% men vs 33% women) in the past month. They are also more likely than women to have watched professional women’s sports over that period, with three in ten men doing so, compared to a fifth of women (31% men vs 22% women).

Similarly, men are also noticeably more likely than women to participate in sporting activities. Our survey showed that a third of men globally reported taking part in any sporting activity, whether casual or organized, in the last month – 11 points higher than women's participation rate (31% men vs 20% women).

The global trends with respect to viewership and participation in sports show up in individual markets too. In Britain, half of men tune in to watch professional men's sports (56%), while the numbers plummet by more than half when it comes to women's sports (23%). The same pattern is observed among women, where just over a tenth watch women's sports (15%), while more than a third watch professional men's sport (31%). The situation is comparable in the United States.

In the UAE market, men are nearly twice as likely to watch professional men's sports compared to women (63% vs 37%). However, it is worth noting that women were slightly more inclined to watch professional women's sports than men (33% women vs 32% men).

India boasts high levels of sports engagement, with a substantial proportion of men – almost two-thirds – and nearly half of women tuning in to watch professional men's sports (64% vs 45%). Interestingly, women in India were just as likely as men to watch professional women's sports (37% vs 35%).

The gender gap in sports viewership in Singapore was notable, with a significant difference between the proportion of men and women who watched professional men's sports - two-fifths of men compared to just over a tenth of women (41% vs 15%). Only a tenth of women in Singapore say they watched women’s professional sports, seven points less than men (18% vs 11%). There was a significant gap in participation rates too, with men twice as likely as women to take part in sports activities.

Denmark has a smaller disparity in sports engagement between men and women watching professional men's sports (60% vs 40%). Men were nine points more likely than women to watch professional women's sports (34% vs 23%) too.

All the above findings suggest that in spite of the recent strides in women’s sport globally, there remains a significant opportunity for growth.

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Methodology: YouGov Surveys: Serviced provide quick survey results from nationally representative or targeted audiences in multiple markets. The data is based on surveys of adults aged 18+ years in 18 markets with sample sizes varying between 10655 and 30473 for each market. All surveys were conducted online in January 2023. Data from each market uses a nationally representative sample apart from India, which use urban representative samples. Learn more about YouGov Surveys: Serviced.

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