The USWNT TV ratings in 2021 dropped, as did the attendance. This compounded what came out to be a, simply put, terrible year for the United States Women’s National Team.
The main competition in 2021 was the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. For the second-straight Olympics, the USWNT failed to reach the gold medal game. The squad did manage to bring him a bronze medal, but the talent on the team expects gold.
COVID-19 still presented an issue for in-person attendance. The USWNT dropped its attendance numbers compared to 2019, the last year with full attendance. In fact, the total attendance hit its lowest average since 2014, with 12,703 spectators at each game.
Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the TV ratings dropped dramatically as well. Here’s what the numbers looked like.
USWNT TV Ratings in 2021
|February 18||She Believes Cup||Canada||FS1||498,000|
|February 21||She Believes Cup||Brazil||FS1||568,000|
|February 24||She Believes Cup||Argentina||FS1||530,000|
|July 24||Olympics||New Zealand||NBCSN||687,000|
|October 21||Friendly||South Korea||ESPN2||287,000|
|October 26||Friendly||South Korea||FS1||299,000|
Despite the drop compared to previous years, 2021 actually showed an improvement compared to 2020. On average, 401,913 people watched the U.S. this past year. That shows a nearly 80,000-person increase from the nine games in 2020 pulling 322,667. Of course, that year had less games and less competition due to the pandemic.
Going back a year prior, 1,996,917 was the average TV audience in 2019. the USWNT TV ratings represent an 80% drop compared to that year. Again, this is not the fairest comparison. A massive drop compared to a Women’s World Cup year is to be expected.
Unfortunately, the ratings also dipped compared to the previous Summer Olympics year. Back in 2016, the WNT averaged 679,455 viewers per game over 22 games.
Reasons for drop in viewership
The biggest culprit for less viewers is something out of the country’s control. Time difference plays a role when the games happen at 3 a.m. ET.
In the previous major tournaments, the host countries created favorable time slots for fans of the USWNT. In 2015, The Women’s World Cup was in Canada before going to France in 2019. The 2016 Summer Olympics were in Rio de Janeiro. Unfortunately for the fans of the USWNT, Tokyo is on the other side of the International Date Line. Therefore, all of the USWNT games at the Olympics kicked off very early in the morning. A number of games kicked off in the 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. window.
It’s not a coincidence that their two most watched games at the Olympics were the two that kicked off closer to 7am. None of the six games in Tokyo reaching a million viewers is a stark contrast to 2016. That year, all four games drew over a million viewers.
It’s also worth noting that Spanish-language viewing figures for USWNT games are incredibly difficult to find. In fact, only three games had numbers: the July 1 friendly against Mexico drew 171,000 on TUDN. Then, the Olympic opener against Sweden drew 51,000 on Telemundo. Finally, the second group stage Olympic game against New Zealand drew 209,000 viewers on Telemundo.
And finally the WNT viewership was also lower than MNT viewership (in English language only) for the first time since 2018 as the WNT drew 46% fewer viewers than their male counterparts with the MNT drawing 745,625 over 14 games in 2021. Factoring in the Spanish language numbers it’s even worse as the MNT drew a combined 1,528,381 viewers per game compared to just a combined 420,652 per game for the WNT.
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