The 2023 edition of #SportOnSearch paints the picture of a bright future for women’s sport.

The Women’s Super League (WSL) is the shining star and tops the table for a second consecutive year after recording incredible growth in Google search interest.  

The WSL saw a 92% growth in searches in 2022 compared to its average over the past 4 years – an incredible stat and the highest percentage of all sports properties in the report! 

But why the increased interest in domestic women’s football? Let’s investigate some of the key factors that may have led to this rise in interest and explore what the future holds for the sport. 

Forget Fergie time, it’s all about screen time

There’s no doubt that viewing WSL matches has become easier over the years. In 2021, the Football Association (FA) announced a landmark multimillion-pound deal with Sky Sports and the BBC for broadcast rights.  

The fact that 22 of these games are free to watch on the BBC is a huge pull for enticing more people to watch the sport. Even better, there is no longer a fiddly Red Button service to navigate: the BBC broadcasts at least 18 of their live games on either BBC One or BBC Two.  

Female footballers may not reach Ronaldo or Messi celebrity status levels any time soon, but Jill Scott’s legendary appearance on I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here! shows how far the sport has come in terms of players being in the public eye away from the pitch. 

As players become better known, stories about them attract more interest and consequently more media outlets want to cover them. It’s a beautiful cycle! 

The major tournament effect 

We’ve seen again and again that major international tournaments can give a big boost to interest in specific players and therefore their appearance in domestic leagues, too.  

The 2022 Women’s Euros did just that, boasting global live viewership of 365 million – more than double that of the 2017 edition and 214% more than 2013. 

The latest report from the Women’s Sport Trust highlights that the Euros brought 15.8 million new viewers to women’s sport (based on them having previously not watched any other women’s sport in 2022). 27% of these viewers went on to watch more women’s sport in the 2 months following the tournament with 46% watching more women’s football. 

It’s no wonder the #SportOnSearch report predicts even more growth of interest to come for women’s football in 2023, especially as the biggest tournament of all – the World Cup – takes place this summer.  

Grassroots = Growth

A YouGov survey conducted at the end of 2021 saw 35% of participants say they believed the growing interest in watching women’s sport could be attributed to consumers having played those sports in their childhood.  

Sport England’s annual children’s fitness survey 2022 showed that 100,000 more girls are playing football in England than 5 years ago. Increased participation is a key factor in Redtorch’s prediction of the WSL’s growth in search interest to continue. 

 The more people participating, the greater the talent pool for top clubs to choose from and the more potential for the creation of future superstars. This makes for an exciting future for the women’s football! 

Redtorch is a global research, digital and creative agency trusted by the biggest names in world sport making sportmore relevant to more people.