YouGov Women in Sport Report 2021: 73% Indians want more exposure for women’s sports

YouGov’s report reveals three in five (59%) urban Indians feel they would watch more of women’s sport if it were shown more on the television. Women in Sport Report 2021 explores how women’s sport is perceived around the globe – with the aim of giving marketers an inside track on identifying where the greatest value lies.

Globally, a third of people (33%) say they would watch more women’s sport if it was more accessible on TV.  Agreement with this statement is the highest in India, followed by Mexico and UAE.

Around the globe, the popularity of women’s sports is much lower than men’s sports across all the sporting categories. The difference is most pronounced in the category of professional sport: respondents are almost twice as likely to watch or follow men’s sport than women’s sport (40% vs 19%).

The most popular reason people give around the world for not following women’s sports is the lack of media coverage (40%). Other supply-side factors acting as barriers to engagement include lack of knowledge about women’s teams or athletes (35%), lack of marketing (30%) and limited accessibility of women’s sport on TV (27%).

The speed, quality and physicality of women’s sport is much less likely to be a reason for not engaging.

When it comes to motivation to watch women’s sport, two in five respondents (42%) think watching and supporting big sporting events is the biggest reason for people to get interested in women’s sport.

Around a third of people (35%) say playing sport as a child is likely to spur an interest and, for around the same proportion having a child who played a sport (30%) is seen as a reason to engage.

The data shows women’s soccer has the highest following of any women’s sport (at 26%) globally, followed by tennis, basketball and volleyball. This varies across countries. In India, the popularity of cricket far exceeds the global popularity of soccer, with nearly three in ten following women’s cricket (58%).

When it comes to interest in women’s sporting leagues, FIFA Women’s World Cup is the most popular among public, followed by Women’s Tennis Association and Women’s National Basketball Association.

Popularity of these events is one of the highest in India, especially for Women’s Tennis Association and FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Talking about the future of women’s sport, a large majority of urban Indian respondents (84%) say there has been an enhancement in the quality of women’s games in the last five years. Around three- quarters perceive there has been progress in areas like live coverage of women’s sport, availability of news on women’s games and sponsorship for them.

The data gives a sense of optimism for women’s sport as nearly three-quarters of public in India (73%) would like to see more exposure for it. This could bear potential rewards for brands considering support for sport. Urban Indians tell us that a brand’s association with women’s professional sport is less likely to make them think more positively about the brand than an association with men’s pro sport (53% men vs 43% women).

 Having said that, women are more likely to look on a brand’s support favourably than men (37% men vs 43% women).

Joseph Eapen of YouGov, said, “Across the globe, there are big differences in the way people perceive and consume women’s sports. Although currently it is less popular than men’ sports, there is potential for growth of women’s sport in the future.

“While this presents a commercial opportunity, the challenge for sports marketers is to find a way to build interest in athletes and teams and create narratives to make women’s sport more appealing to its audiences,” Eapen  said.