Football might not have ‘come home’ for English fans last summer but, 12 months on, there’s another chance at glory, with the Lionesses vying to win the UEFA Women’s Euros for the first time in history. With the tournament taking place in England, and all games available to watch free on the BBC, the stage is set for an incredible month of sporting drama.
2022 has already been a landmark year for women’s sport, with domestic viewing figures in the UK reaching all-time highs. Research by the Women’s Sport Trust found that 17.9 million people tuned into coverage across January, February, and March; that’s a 167% increase from the 6.7 million recorded during the same span of time in 2021. Total viewing time also saw a considerable increase, with the numbers almost doubling from 68 minutes to 122 minutes per person.
The Women’s Super League, the UK’s top tier of women’s football, was by far the most watched championship, with 58% of the aforementioned 17.9 million viewing the action. The Women’s Six Nations and the Arnold Clark Cup (once again, football) rounded out the podium places with 25% and 24% respectively.
The continued growth in popularity and success of women’s sport is supported by its prominence within the global sponsorship market. Nielsen Sports reported that unbundled sponsorship investment in women’s sport increased by 146% over the course of 2021, in comparison to a rise of just 27% in 2020. Brands are no longer simply bundling sponsorship of women’s sport in with deals involving the men’s game, but are instead giving it the individual investment it deserves. And rightly so!
While many companies were, and still are, unfortunately slow to the uptake, a handful of world-renowned brands have helped to bring attention to the benefits of partnering with right holders and clubs in women’s sports. One example is Visa. The global payments giant is in the middle of a ground-breaking seven-year partnership with UEFA women’s football. The landmark deal saw Visa become the first ever UEFA sponsor dedicated purely to women’s football, following the unbundling by UEFA of sponsorship rights from the men’s game.
Since that deal was signed in 2018, numerous household names have followed suit. For evidence you can look no further than the upcoming UEFA Women’s Euros, with the tournament’s partners list boasting the likes of Nike, Adidas, Volkswagen, TikTok and Heineken.
It has certainly taken longer than it should have, and there is still an awful long way to go in achieving true equality within the industry, but the state of women’s sport is most definitely moving in the right direction. Hopefully this summer’s European championship can be yet another showcase of the brilliance of the women’s game and open more eyes to the lucrative sponsorship opportunities that are available.