Women’s sport has grown in prominence thanks to the rise of digital platforms and is now set to skyrocket. In fact, 94% of industry professionals are primed to increase investment in the creation, production and distribution of content, according to research from Imagen, the leading SaaS video management platform business.
The survey of more than 300 senior sports industry executives found that this development is predominately being motivated by commercial interest (29%) and new opportunities for digital distribution (25%).
Social media platforms are proving the most popular way for audiences to engage with women’s sport, accounting for 52% of all interest and engagement with the content. When asked which two platforms are driving the most interest and engagement with women’s sports, Instagram (59%) and Facebook (44%) were revealed to be top by those surveyed. This echoes the fact that 84% of women’s sport output partly uses digital or social platforms, with 36% using them exclusively, while only 2% solely use broadcast.
“To satisfy and capitalise on evolving audience demand for women’s sport, sports federations, governing bodies, leagues and clubs need to ensure they can meet these needs and make the content easily accessible,” commented Will Pitt, Head of Sport, Imagen.
Almost two-thirds (62%) of senior sports industry executives said they expect more of their women’s sports content to be distributed via OTT platforms and social media in the future. Similarly, almost half (46%) say their organisation is investing or planning to invest in the launch of a dedicated direct-to-consumer (DTC) streaming product, thereby increasing access to women’s sport. The DTC trend has gathered momentum in recent years, particularly among niche sports, with a number of sports federations creating their own platforms to share content and reach wider audiences.
“Changes in viewing habits mean viewers are not just relying on broadcasters to air the content they want to watch on TV, evidenced by the 433 million views on the official FIFA Women’s World Cup digital channels this year,” added Pitt. “2019 has been a significant year for women’s sport in terms of exposure, viewership and growth. Crucially, younger, digitally savvy audiences are helping to fuel this rise.”