Women’s sports comprise 15% of sports media coverage, says new study

Laura Woods, Eni Aluko and Ian Wright report pitchside for ITV Sport
Laura Woods, Eni Aluko and Ian Wright report pitchside for ITV Sport ahead of the FIFA Women's World Cup 2023 Qualifier between England and North Macedonia (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

A study completed by Wasserman’s ‘The Collective’, in partnership with ESPN Research and ESPN Women, has found that women’s sports comprise 15 percent of sports media coverage. 

Wasserman is passionate about upholding the cultural impact of women’s sports, and their commitment to the importance of this shines through in the research, as does that of ESPN.

What is the report about?

Titled ‘From the Shadows to the Spotlight: a new look at the increased media coverage of women’s sports’, the report provides a valuable and interesting insight into the ever-evolving world of women’s sports and to what extent it is addressed by the media. The research details how women’s share of sports media coverage has changed over time. It uses graphs, statistics and key facts to establish how the dramatic growth in the overall media representation of women’s sports has developed. 

The report also addresses how, until recently, the known statistic for the amount of coverage women’s sports received was significantly lower. It highlights how and why we can expect to see this figure continue to rise over the coming years, due to momentum of current growth. 

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This important and promising research evaluates the factors that have led to such a dramatic, positive increase. For example, it discusses the figures associated with linear television, streaming, social media, and digital media and how these platforms contributed to women’s sports media coverage between 2018 and 2022. 

It acknowledges the gravity of the progress that media has made regarding the accessibility and representation that women’s sports now have. However, the report also recognises that there is still a very large gap between the amount of media coverage dedicated to women’s sports compared to that of men’s sports, especially when considering the amount of content that is available. This document discusses why that is the case and what can be done to change it. 

What the report achieves

“This data powerfully begs a reassessment of the opportunity around women’s sports — to meet fans where their passions live and their consumption habits converge. New perspective can perpetuate a growth cycle that will result in greater economic growth for players, leagues, brands, properties and audiences alike,” said Wasserman Executive Vice President, Global Insights Shelley Pisarra.

“Persistent, incorrect assumptions of lower media representation for women’s sports have created hesitancy around investment, whereas truth will spark opportunity. Coverage of sports has definitely evolved across platforms, requiring new approaches to and support for women’s sports advancement.” 

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‘From the Shadows to the Spotlight’ explores sports coverage on a general scale, allowing us to see the implications of current consumer habits and the availability of women’s sports content in a broader sense. The findings from this report also have a profound impact culturally and for business in the field of women’s sport, in the media and beyond. 

We know that we still have work to do to make women’s sports as accessible and as highly documented as men’s. The research conducted by Wasserman in collaboration with ESPN shows the value of the engagement we are now seeing. 

The report makes for interesting, important, and encouraging reading for anyone who engages with women’s sports in any capacity and proves that we must keep pushing for more. 

Her Football Hub is looking forward to interviewing Wasserman’s insights lead and the collective lead to shed further light on this important topic.

Access the full report here: https://www.wearethecollective.com/the-new-15-percent

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