The growing commercial opportunity in women’s sport has long been hard to quantify. As part of a collaboration with Women’s Sport Trust and England Hockey, Nielsen Sports has released data that shows, the scale of the market in the UK and importantly, the opportunities for sponsors and broadcasters.

For the first time, we can quantify the scale of interest in women’s sport – and it’s big.  59% of the UK population have an active interest in women’s sport – that’s a potential market of 24 million people.  This is a massive and largely untapped opportunity for brands and broadcasters.

Today, over half (59%) of the UK population is interested in women’s sport – 40% of people would consider attending live women’s sport, 42% would watch more if it was accessible on free TV and over a third (37%) would watch more if it was accessible free online.

Over recent years, the huge success of women’s teams, athletes and events, has fuelled a revolution in women’s sport and the data is now telling that story.

While athletics and tennis lead the way, there is also considerable interest in the major team sports:

  • 87% of athletics fans in the UK are fans of women’s athletics
  • 83% of tennis fans in the UK are fans of women’s tennis
  • 72% of cycling fans in the UK are fans of women’s cycling
  • 71% of hockey fans in the UK are fans of women’s hockey
  • 57% of golf fans in the UK are fans of women’s golf
  • 38% of football fans in the UK are fans of women’s football
  • 36% of rugby union fans in the UK are fans of women’s rugby union

With large potential audiences interested in women’s sport and growing awareness of major sporting events there is plenty of opportunity for sports rights holders, broadcasters and brands to engage fans.

Women’s Sport Trust Joint Chief Executive, Jo Bostock commented


“The leaders from major brands and broadcasters that we speak to have been telling us two main things.  Firstly, that they are increasingly interested in women’s sport, but secondly, they need more data to help them make a case for investment.

The insights from Nielsen Sports clearly spell out the scope and scale of the opportunity. And you only have to look to the phenomenal example of the Vitality Hockey World Cup to see what’s possible when a top sport like Hockey puts on a great show and is backed by a committed brand like Vitality.  We anticipate many more progressive brands moving from curious interest in women’s sport, to active investment in 2018-19.”


England Hockey Chief Executive, Sally Munday, added


“We are very excited about beginning to realise the commercial opportunity of women’s hockey.  Buoyed by the tremendous success of the national team, the Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup has delivered sell-out crowds, significant media interest and a suite of consumer brands aligning with the sport.  This provides the perfect platform to launch the FIH Pro League in 2019, a global, annual tournament which will be game-changing for our sport.”


Lynsey Douglas, Global Leader for Women’s Sport at Nielsen Sports said:


“The commercial opportunity in women’s sport is growing at pace. Audiences are up and there is an increasing interest among the general population in the UK, across a number of sports. All the indicators point to it being a very good time to invest in women’s sport.”


The research highlights the positive values that fans associate with women’s sport – including ‘competitive’, ‘inspiring’, ‘progressive’ and ‘relatable’, which indicates the potential reputational value of brand associations.  The data also sheds light on a youthful audience profile with an even split between females (51%) and males (49%).

The UK data is being shared today in partnership with Women’s Sport Trust and England Hockey.  A global Nielsen study is set to launch this summer, which will provide essential insight for commercial investment in women’s sport.


Women’s Sport Trust, Nielsen Sports and England Hockey are working together to provide evidence of the real value of women’s sport. 


About Women’s Sport Trust
The Women’s Sport Trust was founded after London 2012 with the aim of raising the visibility and increasing the impact of women’s sport in the UK. This is achieved through the promotion of role models, stimulating media coverage and encouraging greater funding. It is the leading UK charity focused on using the power of sport to accelerate gender equality.

Women’s Sport Trust has a substantial network of high profile influencers across sport, media and business. Its patrons are Anna Watkins MBE, Kate Richardson-Walsh OBE, Kelly Smith MBE, Sophie Christiansen CBE and Maggie Alphonsi MBE.

Registered charity number 1153429

About Nielsen

Nielsen Holdings plc (NYSE: NLSN) is a global measurement and data analytics company that provides the most complete and trusted view available of consumers and markets worldwide. Our approach marries proprietary Nielsen data with other data sources to help clients around the world understand what’s happening now, what’s happening next, and how to best act on this knowledge. For more than 90 years Nielsen has provided data and analytics based on scientific rigor and innovation, continually developing new ways to answer the most important questions facing the media, advertising, retail and fast-moving consumer goods industries. An S&P 500 company, Nielsen has operations in over 100 countries, covering more than 90% of the world’s population. For more information, visit

About England Hockey

England Hockey is the national governing body for hockey in England. It is responsible for the governance and development of the sport in this country from grass roots and domestic level to preparing the Great Britain teams for the Olympic Games and other International events, on behalf of and with the support of the other home nations, Scotland and Wales. For more information about England Hockey and the programme available go to and

Sponsorship opportunities are available – contact Graham Swanson at or 07590183304 for more details. For media requests, including interviews, please contact Craig Mortimer-Zhika on or 01628 895083.

Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup 2018

England Hockey are hosting the Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup in London this summer at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park between 21 July and 5 August.