A record-breaking 2019 for women's sport: the facts and figures behind its growing popularity

The Netball World Cup was heavily attended this year in Liverpool (PA Images)
The Netball World Cup was heavily attended this year in Liverpool (PA Images)
9:26am, Wed 18 Sep 2019
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Yet another attendance record has been broken this week at the GAA's All-Ireland football finals and in a year where women’s sport is in the ascendancy, there could be more to come.

Coverage of, and participation in, women’s sport has never been greater and there is a groundswell of support - backed by NewsChain - to keep that momentum going.

So, which major finals have seen records broken this year and how have television figures improved over the years?

Attendances at major sporting events are rising

While major finals at any level of sporting competition are likely to be well supported, the last few years have seen an increase in the number of supporters at big women’s sporting events.

This is not just confined to football, with the trend in rising popularity being shared across all types of sports.

This year’s FIFA World Cup final saw 57,900 pack into the Parc Olympique Lyonnais for USA versus the Netherlands, which was the most seen for a final in Europe. The GAA Finals Day in Ireland saw a record 56,114 crowd watch Dublin Ladies run out victorious.

Attendance at the GAA finals and FIFA World Cup were record-breaking this year

The Netball World Cup in Liverpool earlier this year was for at least 90% of the sessions sold out, which meant almost 22,000 watched world class netball for all 10 days. And just this weekend saw more than 80,000 spectators flock to Gleneagles, which was the record for a Solheim Cup held in Europe.

It is likely that further records will be broken for women’s events in the upcoming IAAF World Athletics Championships in Doha and will provide further evidence that this is the year where attitudes towards women’s sport started changing.

TV coverage is showing no signs of slowing

Since it became apparent that women’s sport was something people wanted to see, television networks have taken their coverage to the next level.

Just this week it was announced that US advertisers spent close to $100 million for television adverts during the FIFA Women’s World Cup and one match in particular stood out in the UK.

England’s 2-1 victory over Scotland saw a peak of 6.1 million viewers on television, whereas the England men’s game against Switzerland saw a peak of 1.24 million.

According to a report on women’s sport coverage on television last year, women’s tennis tournaments across the world received 1,039 hours of coverage on free-to-air television, which was a 15% rise on the same figure five years previously.

The improvement will likely be seen in this country and around the world for many years, as the likes of BBC and BT Sport are continuing to invest in programmes about women’s sport.

What next for women’s sport?

With all the progress made in women’s sport this year, it will be interesting to see how and if it is taken to the next level.

But perhaps the main focus of organisations should be to enhance the interest in participation figures in women’s sport.

The number of women playing sport regularly reached an all-time high at 7.21 million at the end of 2016, and last year when the latest report was released, figures showed a 1.1% increase in the number of women being active.

The new report for England is due to come out in October this year and again there is likely to be an increase in female participation, which will be crucial for the overall growth of women’s sport.

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