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Public Interest in Women's Sport rises during Pandemic

 Chelsea won the FA Women's Super League in May 2021 as the pandemic restrictions were lifted

Public interest in women's sport has risen during the pandemic, with 21 per cent of UK adults following it more than they did 18 months ago, according to a new report published by Sky Sports and Leaders in Sport

The new research shows that eyeballs are increasingly focused on women's competitions, with a significant rise in the number of men watching and engaging during the pandemic; nearly a quarter of men (24 per cent) say they now follow more women's sport than they did 18 months ago.

The report 'Women's Sport: Bouncing Back from the Pandemic?' also reveals some of the causes, with over two-thirds (68 per cent) of those who follow more women's sport stating that their enjoyment of broadcast coverage fuelled their interest.

Tracey Crouch MP, chair of the fan-led review into football and the former sports minister, said: "This new research shows that, despite the challenges of the pandemic, women's sport has great resilience and is not just surviving but thriving after an exciting summer of sport.

"We must applaud the work of broadcasters like Sky Sports who have been innovative in the ways they have supported the growth of women's sport which is driving more people to watch and follow.

Jonathan Licht, managing director of Sky Sports, said: "This report shows that women's sport is again prospering and is overcoming the challenges posed by the pandemic. It's fantastic to see from this data that its recovery has been bolstered by an increased appetite from the public.

"The success of the Hundred and the incredible viewing figures for the Women's Super League at the start of the new broadcast deal highlight the momentum behind women's sport. We're excited to support and contribute to its long-term success."

Those polled highlighted the importance of growing the media coverage of women's sport, with 19 per cent saying that news reporting has made them want to tune in or attend women's sport in the last 18 months, while 41 per cent believe that women's sport should be treated the same as men's when it hits our screens.

Away from broadcasting, nearly half of those surveyed insist there should be parity in marketing with both female and male athletes appearing in sports advertising (49 per cent), while of those who have been watching more women's sport, 32 per cent agreed that they had learned more about it and its stars through advertising and social media.

In the report, experts from the sports industry are interviewed about the opportunities and threats facing women's sport, while also discussing the strategies and leadership that are helping women's sport grow as it recovers from the worst impacts of the pandemic.

Leaders in Sport's managing director Laura McQueen said: "Here at Leaders, we've proactively looked to champion the commercial development of women's sport through multiple events, programmes and series over the past five years, all with the shared objective of accelerating the pace of change in the industry we know and love.

"While there is still plenty of work to do to achieve parity, we're delighted to showcase that the appetite to watch and engage with women's sport has drastically increased through the pandemic; and we're proud to partner with Sky Sports to showcase these findings to the industry through a new, extensive report."

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