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| 6 minutes read

British landmarks, chickens and eggs for women’s sport

It has been great to see the CGI landmark takeover launched this week, with British landmarks being adorned with team colours and more to promote the big derby fixtures taking place this weekend in the Women’s Super League (WSL).

More broadly in the context of women’s sport, whether it is headline grabbing spectator figures, new innovative content offerings, or results, women’s sport continues to hit the front page.

The current state of play, as made out by the data, is that, of the classic trio of revenue streams, matchday, commercial and broadcast, the largest share of income for women’s sports is commercial revenue. There is still a chicken and egg dilemma in women’s sport as investment (the egg) is needed to facilitate the three revenue streams, but arguably revenue and success (the chicken) in these areas must come first to secure investment. This year has seen greater professionalisation of women’s football and further investment will help grow the game to the next level.

We explore some of these issues here.

Matchday: Strategic investments drive growth in women’s sport attendances

Women’s sports have seen overall notable growth in attendance this year. For example, according to the official attendance stats, the WSL have seen a rise in interest as game attendances are up 43% since last season. 

Women’s Super League Average Attendance


2022/2023 Season

2023/2024 Season

Manchester United10,17411,134
Bristol CityN/A7,687
Tottenham Hotspur4,1134,596
Aston Villa4,1994,379
Manchester City7,1953,539
Brighton & Hove Albion3,4273,494
Leicester City2,9012,329
West Ham United1,5241,830

Research from Two Circles suggests that the real driver behind this increase in attendance is due to the ‘Big Games’ strategy. This strategy is being implemented by a selection of the big clubs and it focuses on the one-off matches taking place in stadiums with a capacity greater than 20,000. These matches are being promoted with higher marketing efforts resulting in record numbers in attendance. For example, Bristol City have broken their record twice this season, both times in ‘big games’, with 12,008 in attendance against Arsenal and 14,138 against Manchester United.

WSL teams affiliated with their counterpart men’s clubs are also looking to play more matches this season in the main stadiums, which significantly have more capacity for fans than the women’s stadiums. There is a direct correlation between playing games in larger stadiums and higher attendance. This can be seen in the recent record-breaking WSL attendance figures of 60,160 at the Emirates Stadium where Arsenal took on and beat Manchester United.

Attendance is crucial to attract investors, especially because it is predicted that matchday revenues will be the third-largest revenue source this year. Matchday revenue broadly comprises ticket sales, food, beverages, merchandise and corporate hospitality. The Premier League men’s clubs that have had investment in their stadiums have reaped the benefits in matchday revenue and the WSL could possibly benefit from the same down the line in their respective stadiums. This is particularly key for clubs that generate most of their income through matchday revenue, which includes Arsenal Women who, according to the Deloitte Football Money League 2024 report, earned 58% of revenue this way in the previous season. 

The next step is to garner habitual attendance and consumption of WSL games. 

It was great to hear from industry leaders at a recent sports conference making the point that rather than compare the men’s and women’s game in terms of attendance and approach to enticing fans, the comparison should be with other forms of entertainment that might be competing for spectator time. Think Taylor Swift concerts and theatre. Instead, it should be how to make the offering more compelling for a different audience; whether that is via the accompanying music, entertainment and experiential elements or community tie ins etc.

We are starting to see more habitual attendance and if the frequency of WSL matches being played at the main stadiums can be increased, this will help to capitalise on the visibility and matchday revenue opportunities. 

Commercial: Standalone deals for women’s club and team sponsorship

In terms of commercial revenue i.e. of income earned from advertising, sponsorship and partnerships agreements with other brands, whilst rights can come in a separate standalone deal from the men’s team, or together in a combined bundle, typically, it has been the former. 

With the combined bundle there can be a lack of transparency in quantifying the value of the women’s team.

Maya Herm at Relo Metrics stated that “while visibility has increased, our research shows most women’s teams still don’t have access to their own bespoke data sets. The value of sponsorships is either not measured at all, or it’s bundled wholesale with data from men’s teams. This means there’s a continued risk of undervaluing women’s football, with players missing out on lucrative deals – a reality that we’re determined to change.”

According to Deloitte it is forecasted that there will be an increase in standalone deals for WSL teams this year. Certainly, this was the conclusion reached recently at a sports conference. The consensus was that we are already seeing both more and different brands come into the space for example, family brands, as well as innovation in approach to rights packages to target a new audience of potential fans.

Broadcast: NewCo and new broadcasting deal on the horizon

The second highest revenue stream in women’s sports this year is forecasted to be broadcast revenue.

As noted by Soccerscene, the WSL's current broadcast rights deal is worth £7.75 million (per year) and is set to expire at the end of the 2023/24 season. The WSL are seeking a new TV contract worth between £15 million and £20 million per annum, more than twice the value of the current deal. 

The WSL and the Women's Championship are both being taken over by a stand-alone governing body, temporarily named NewCo, who will run the two tiers instead of the FA from the start of the next season (2024/25). One of the key matters to be considered is the new broadcasting deal. NewCo CEO, Nikki Doucet, stated that they are exploring “all possible options” in negotiating a new deal.

Under the current deal, Sky Sports broadcast 35 matches a season and the BBC broadcast 22 matches. The remaining matches are streamed for free on the FA's website. The WSL tender document issued to broadcasters features all 132 league games; 56 of those games are to be sold exclusively and the remaining 76 games are available on a non-exclusive basis.

As per the Women's Sport Trust report, published in February this year, a record 46.7 million people watched women's sport on television in 2023. Whilst football dominates, other sports of note were cricket, rugby union and golf. 

Moves such as those of DAZN, who, only a few weeks ago, launched a channel dedicated to women’s football, will continue to help build the momentum. It is interesting that the offering also contains behind the scenes access and archive footage. We have all seen, the undeniable impact of behind-the-scenes content for elevating the profile and viewership of other sports and we wait with interest to see what happens next and what other innovations will be adopted to keep the momentum going.



women in sport