SportOnSearch assesses online search interest in the world’s most significant sports properties.

Startling Success

The release of the SportOnSearch 2024 report reveals how successful women’s sports properties have been in the past year. In fact, all eight of those

included grew in search compared to their previous 4-year average (+76.6% increase on average).

Six of these finished in the top 10 of the League Table where the Barclays Women’s Super League (BWSL) took No 1 spot with an astronomical 258% growth in search. The other five were:

EuroLeague Women, UEFA Women’s Champions League, Women’s Six Nations, Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA),National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL).

The two remaining properties – Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) and Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) – finished in the top 20, cementing the depth of search success across women’s sport.

SportOnSearch 2024

What is behind this surge in search?

1. Evolution of Star Athletes

A significant contributor to the success of women’s sport properties is the increasing number of star athletes who – combined with strategic use of social media – have been propelled to superstardom.

Caitlin Clark’s recent declaration for the WNBA draft, for example,  generated a media frenzy. It not only shone the spotlight on Clark but led to renewed interest for the WNBA and a spike in ticket sales for Indiana Fever, her likely new home.

Athletes can boost interest in regional areas, too. SportOnSearch 2024 showed that WTA number 1 Iga Swiatek made the sports property very popular in her home country of Poland, whilst Lydia Ko’s success helped make the LPGA very popular in New Zealand.

Social media’s role in amplifying the achievement of these female athletes cannot be overstated – it’s a powerful tool that transforms sports stars into household names, which in turn increases exposure for properties.

2. Improving media rights deals

Media coverage and rights deals have been pivotal in propelling women’s sports forward. NWSL’s new $240m TV rights deal, DAZN’s game-changing decision to make the UEFA Women’s Champions League free to air, and the successful partnership between the Women’s Six Nations and TikTok are all landmark deals that have significantly expanded audiences.

Such strategic moves have been instrumental in increasing viewership and have fostered a more inclusive sports media landscape in the process. By reducing barriers to entry, these properties have opened up to a broader, more diverse audience, further fuelling growth in search and interest.

3. Capitalising on the success of major tournaments

The success of major tournaments has provided an unparalleled boost to women’s sports. The Covid-delayed 2021 Women’s Rugby World Cup helped promote interest in the Women’s Six Nations and led to a record attendance for a Women’s Rugby match at Twickenham.

Similarly, the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia last year played a vital role in developing interest in newer markets like Zambia, Haiti, Vietnam, and Ireland – all of which competed for the first time, captured the imagination of fans, and created high interest in properties such as the BWSL.

SportOnSearch 2024

Most succesful properties


BWSL’s remarkable 258% increase in search was far greater than that of the 2nd-ranked MLS (+87%). The existing brand strength of clubs such as Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City helped provide a strong foundation for BWSL’s skyrocketing popularity.

Such an increase in interest has further escalated due to the recent success of England’s Lionesses in major tournaments which has bled into the league’s already growing media appeal.

EuroLeague Women

EuroLeague Women (+76% rise in search interest) is another standout property from SportOnSearch 2024. Their success can be attributed to a blend of a fantastic digital strategy coupled with the increasing pull of star names like Emma Meesseman. A blockbuster final weekend also drew fan interest in droves.

UEFA Women's Champions League

DAZN’s initiative to offer free access to watch matches on YouTube has opened doors to countless potential fans, reducing barriers to entry and increased exposure of the property.

Furthermore, the benefit of competition between high-profile clubs like Barcelona and Arsenal has helped maintain a strong and consistent level of international interest.

SportOnSearch 2024

Key Takeaways for rightsholders

Rightsholders and International Federations (IFs) can take strategic cues from women’s sports properties for growth and success, as outlined below:

  • Leverage major events: Capitalise on high visibility during marquee events to garner attention.  Develop strategies to maintain audience interested post event to try and build them into a long term fanbase
  • Use your athletes: Athletes, especially from less well-represented nations, can vastly increase their own and their sport’s profile through effective leverage of social media. Strategising around athletes like, Iga Swiatek and Lydia Ko brought significant exposure to their respective properties.
  • Look into unfamiliar regions: Look beyond established markets in the US and UK to nations with growing interest in women’s sports. Emulate the FIFA Women’s World Cup strategy of including more teams to create interest in new regions, which in turn increases interest in domestic leagues.
  • Master your social media strategy: Develop comprehensive social media strategies to enhance audience reach in the same way as EuroLeague Women and the Women’s Six Nations. Whether through sponsorship or media management, there are many quick and effective ways to spread awareness of your sports property through social channels.