Women’s sports are winning over a lot of fans — but they still have a long way to go to reach something close to parity with the men’s games, according to a new study from National Research Group.
Per NRG’s Leveling the Playing Field report, 30% of sports fans say they are watching more women’s sports than they used to over the past five years, while 25% say they are watching more over the past year.
Those figures are both over double the number that say they are watching less women’s sports than they used to (13% and 12%, respectively).
- Much of that growth is being driven by younger generations, as 39% of Gen Z and 29% of Millennials say they are watching more women’s sports over the last 12 months.
- Additionally, 40% of Black fans and 32% of Hispanic fans are watching more over the same time period.
The increased interest is at least in part a result of investment from media companies.
When asked why they watch more women’s sports, 41% said that it was because there are more women’s sports being broadcast.
In turn, the value of women’s sports broadcast rights in the United States grew from $36.9 million in 2021 to $47.7 million in 2022.
However, even as their attitudes on women’s sports have begun to change, few fans are ready to fully commit their time and money to them.
- Only 21% of sports fans actively follow any women’s sports leagues and only 9% say they’d be willing to pay to watch a women’s game.
- By comparison, 66% of fans would be willing to spend money on a men’s game.
- Additionally, the average U.S. sports fan would be willing to spend a maximum of $56.67 on a piece of branded men’s sports merchandise, but only $28.40 maximum for women’s sports.
- 42% say they would never consider buying a piece of women’s sports merchandise regardless of price.
All of this said, fans are ready to keep supporting the women’s sports movement — as long as the proper investment is still there: 60% of fans believe sponsors should invest more money into women’s sports.
Further, 85% — including 79% of men — say it is important for women’s sports to continue growing in popularity.