Social and Short-Form Video to Drive Women’s World Cup Viewing

Dan Meier 18 July, 2023 

With the FIFA Women’s World Cup two days from kick-off, new research highlights the role of social and short-form video platforms in the sport’s rising popularity. WSC Sports, an AI-driven sports content company, surveyed more than 14,000 people over five continents to assess the consumption habits of World Cup viewers.

The results suggest the tournament will attract half a billion new viewers, 57 percent more than 2019, reaching 1.472 billion fans. And digital demand for Women’s World Cup content appears to be fuelling that growth, with 30 percent of the audience expected to follow the tournament on YouTube.

Respondents also plan to watch coverage on social media channels, predominantly Facebook (17 percent), Instagram (13 percent), TikTok (8 percent) and lastly Twitter (7 percent). “TikTok has surpassed Twitter in its popularity among all sports fans,” notes the report.

Unsurprisingly, Gen Z fans are significantly more likely to watch on digital channels. For 16-24-year-olds, both YouTube (43 percent) and Instagram (31 percent) are more popular destinations for World Cup content than TV (30 percent). And TikTok is not far behind, with 26 percent of Gen Z viewers planning to follow the tournament on the short-form video platform.

Extra time

The research arrives the same day that BT Sport rebrands as TNT Sports, where big-ticket championships such as the Premier League have traditionally played out behind a paywall. But women’s football is gathering steam in an era where mobile and highlights viewing are gaining serious traction. While 59 percent of World Cup viewers still intend to watch live matches, 47 percent aim to follow the tournament via highlights.

According to the research, 38 percent of young adults (and 23 percent across all ages) tend to watch sport on a mobile device. And younger viewers are also more likely to seek out additional World Cup content, with 25 percent of Gen Z fans planning to watch player-focused coverage (compared with 17 percent for all ages), and 14 percent watching behind-the-scenes content (versus 8 percent universally).

These findings support last month’s research by Crux Sports on the role of DAZN’s YouTube channel in driving growth for the UEFA Women’s Champions League, where the service hosted extra series focusing on participating teams and individual players. And putting auxiliary content on platforms where the audience is already engaged can incentivise them to spend extra time at that destination.

“Our research shows conclusively the rate at which interest and awareness of women’s sport is growing globally,” said WSC Sports CEO Daniel Shichman. “It also underlines the role of digital platforms and short-format content in driving a bigger audience for the Women’s World Cup.”

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