Sports viewing in the UK has spiked since the start of the pandemic in 2020 to today, with women’s sports, particularly football, enjoying strong interest, according to a survey of consumers across 17 markets by global strategic consultancy Altman Solon. The analysis shows that broadcasters and investors have several opportunities to take advantage of the continued popularity of sports, changing fandom, and evolving content consumption.
Altman Solon’s “2022 Global Sports Survey” provides a detailed analysis of the growing trends across sports interest and viewership, awareness of live TV and sports OTT services, and international fandom across 17 countries. The survey identified that the growth comes as global rights fees and franchise valuations remain sky high, with several billion-pound transactions occurring in the last year alone.
Furthermore, the survey found that more than half of respondents (57%) are watching more sports now compared to 2020 (43%), with football the most watched sport at 42%, followed by tennis (9%), cricket (8%) and rugby (7%). However, women’s sports have stepped into the spotlight with 54% of monthly sports viewers watching it. Women’s football is the most popular sport, and European football bodies continuing to invest heavily in women’s leagues have paved the way for a surge in popularity. The growing interest in women’s football is also demonstrated by record-breaking fan attendance, including the recent women’s Euro final between England and Germany that gathered 87.192 fans at Wembley Stadium.
Another major driver of the increasing sports viewing in the UK is the rapidly evolving viewing habits of sports fans. The survey revealed that audiences expect a more direct engagement with properties and prefer shorter form, “snackable” content, and interaction with a wider range of sports teams and leagues.
Moreover, fans are increasingly consuming sports via digital platforms and services, with streaming OTT services unlocking the opportunity to include features such as real-time catch-up or stats. Audiences also prefer to receive news and highlights through social media, replacing time spent watching sports live. According to Altman Solon, adding an emphasis on social engagement can unlock exciting new revenue streams, including increased audience reach and content monetization.
The report also revealed that 57% of UK respondents said they watch sports monthly, and they tend to watch about 3.5 hours of live sports per week. Meanwhile, 21% of UK respondents would watch live games in virtual reality (VR), and 30% of UK respondents would even watch live games as if inside their favorite stadium or arena in VR.
“This year’s ‘Global Sports Survey’ highlights a growing shift towards positive evolution that is being driven by the success of women’s sports, innovations in technology, and changes in fandom,” commented Ian Lube, Partner at Altman Solon.
“This was a very exciting summer for sports, particularly with the success of the Lionesses in the UEFA Cup. In addition to the historic accomplishments on the pitch, all of England came together behind the Lionesses, packing Wembley and watching the match on TV or livestreams. The economic potential of women’s sports is reinforced by the survey results, which provide rationale for continued and increased investment and support of women’s sports,” Lube concluded.