Ticketing, broadcasting rights and sponsorship deals could generate more than £1bn per year for women’s sport in the UK by 2030 if visibility is increased.
According to a new study carried out by the insight agency Two Circles on behalf of the Women’s Sport Trust, the revenue from ticketing and other commercial factors is set to triple from the current £350m per year.
The research, Closing the Visibility Gap, found the sports industry underinvests in showcasing female sports, therefore failing to create meaningful interactions for partners and sponsors and limiting the ability to fully capitalise on the commercial viability of the sector.
Tammy Parlour, chief executive and co-founder of the Women’s Sport Trust, said: “Women’s sport has been on a strong growth trajectory. However, most sport played by elite female athletes still has a long way to go until it becomes commercially viable.
“To achieve long-lasting change, and for women’s sport to occupy a central role in our culture in the UK, the sports industry must widely recognise a social responsibility to building sport for all, and practically connect a vision for women’s sport to long-term commercial profit.”
The study found that two-thirds of UK sports fans follow women’s sport in some form, with more than 80 per cent of fans feeling as though major events and TV broadcasts have been important factors behind following women’s sport.
Currently, more than a third of women’s sport use digital channels to broadcast their sport.
In addition, fewer than 30 per cent of the most prominent images on website and social channels of UK sport governing bodies feature female athletes. The research found that “action imagery” of women’s sport would be key to helping to promote it, with 12 per cent of sports fans saying shots of women athletes in action were more likely to encourage them to find out more about a sport or event than static shots in more personal or entertainment settings.
Parlour added: “We hope this research can play a role in supporting all sport industry stakeholders in this endeavour, helping them present female athletes and teams in ways that resonate with fans, create meaningful interactions for partners, and build success for women’s sport overall.
“We believe the next decade will be a gamechanger for women’s sport and with some concerted focus on key areas such as visibility and data we can ensure it is not only commercially viable but sustainable for decades to come.”