The Women’s World Cup certainly has many people that watch every four years. By most accounts, that number continues to grow each time. Continued investment in the women’s game benefitted the United States and its audiences. With more on-field success for the USWNT, more Americans tuned in.
We are now seeing the same trend in Europe. Not only is the quality of competition improving. More people are making a conscious effort to watch international women’s soccer. For example, the UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 Final between England and Germany was the most-watched sporting event in Germany for the year. Recall that there was also a men’s World Cup. Granted, Germany did not do well in Qatar, as it bowed out in the group stage.
However, despite the success of the Women’s Euro and the UEFA Women’s Champions League, European broadcasters are hesitant to spend big on the Women’s World Cup. They fear not enough people would watch to make it profitable based on what FIFA is asking. In response, FIFA President Gianni Infantino threatens European nations with a blackout on the tournament entirely.
How many soccer fans watch the Women’s World Cup?
Looking back to the most recent tournament, a record number of viewers tuned in to the World Cup in France in 2019. According to FIFA, 1.12 billion people tuned in to the 2019 tournament. Most of that was on TV, while 481.5 million accessed coverage on digital platforms.
That number is somewhat hard to truly quantify. FIFA claims 993 million people watched the World Cup. However, its measurement for that figure is unique individuals watching at home on linear TV. It may not account for streaming or people watching in groups at pubs or restaurants, for example. Plus, one minute of the 52-game tournament is not much time at all.
A better way to understand how many people watch the Women’s World Cup would be on a game-by-game basis. In the United States, viewership of the 2019 Final on FOX peaked at over 20 million viewers at one time. Yet, that was a decline compared to 2015, which broke the record for the most-watched soccer game in US history. That game, when the USWNT defeated Japan in Vancouver, pulled in an audience of just shy of 27 million in the United States.
The 2019 Women’s World Cup did see an overall increase in viewership compared to previous tournaments. Moreover, the viewership of the women in 2019 was a 22% bump compared to the 2018 men’s World Cup. To be fair to the viewership, though, that World Cup did not have the USMNT in it, which may have dragged down the viewers.
Rest of the world
In terms of South America, Europe, Africa and Australia watching the Women’s World Cup, the 2019 tournament saw a massive jump compared to 2015. FIFA used 20-minute in-home reach for this statistic, perhaps qualifying the data better. In South America, the 20-minute penetration was 117.8 million. Much of that came because the tournament was not hidden behind pay TV. Asia was second among all regions with 152.2 million watching for at least 20 minutes of the tournament. However, that was not much of an increase, which speaks to the popularity of the women’s game in Asia.
Finally, Europe had the largest audience for at least 20 minutes. 166.6 million watched the Women’s World Cup in 2019, which was a 136% increase compared to 2015. Granted, the competition was in Europe, so more European teams were involved. But, success from the Netherlands, England and Sweden propelled the audiences. For reference, seven of the eight quarterfinalists in the 2019 tournament were from Europe.
In total, 540 million people from around the world were watching the 2019 Women’s World Cup for a sustained period. Nine games in the tournament averaged over 25 million as a live audience. The highlights of that were the Final and a round-of-16 clash between Brazil and host France. The Final averaged 82.18 million watching, while the latter game averaged 60.67 million. Note that these are averages, and they peaked at certain points.
PHOTO: IMAGO / bildbyran
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