Urban Indians prefer watching women’s sports over men’s


NEW DELHI: With the recently concluded Asian Women’s Cup and the ICC Women’s World Cup, and with some global events in the pipeline, women’s sport is on the rise and so is the interest in women’s game, finds a new report. 

Data from market research and data analytics firm YouGov’s report which took into account 18 markets across the world said, across the globe, urban Indian sports fans (who follow at least one sport) are most likely to prefer watching women’s sports over men’s.

Its ‘Global Sports 2022’ report measures sports fans’ attitudes around the issues of social responsibility and equality, delving deep into their expectations of sports rights holders and their sponsors to get involved in these matters, and ultimately champion change.

Although women’s sport is less popular than men’s worldwide, data from its ‘Global Profiles’, a global audience intelligence tool, shows there is an appetite and over a third (34%) of sports fans agree with the statement ‘I prefer watching women’s sport over men’s.’ Across all surveyed markets, sports fans in India are most likely to agree with the statement, followed by sports fans in the UAE. In contrast to this, agreement with the statement is the lowest in Great Britain, along with other European countries like France, Germany and Italy, that also report low numbers.

In India, almost an equal proportion of men and women sports fans prefer women’s sports over men’s (51% females, 49% males). However, when considered by age, there is significantly more interest in women’s sports among the younger generation compared to the rest, with more than half (56%) of 18-24 years saying so.

Data from its last year’s ‘Women in Sport Report 2021’ revealed that football is the number one preferred women’s sport globally, followed by badminton, basketball, and tennis. Taking a closer look at female football events, we find that more than a third (34%) of global sports fans claim to be ‘really passionate about women’s football and FIFA Women’s World Cup’. Having said that, support for women’s football and the FIFA Women’s World Cup varies considerably by country.

Half of adult sports fans in India (50%) are passionate about women’s football and the FIFA Women’s World Cup, compared with only 16% of British sports fans. Other countries showing their passion for women’s football include UAE (42%), Germany (40%), Argentina (30%) and Spain (27%), it added.

The market research firm’s ‘Global Profiles’ data said sports fans across the globe not only have an appetite for women’s sports but are also more likely than the average consumer to care about issues associated with diversity and inclusion. Globally, almost two thirds (65%) of sports fans agree diversity and inclusion should be considered when putting on events, and almost seven in ten (68%) feel that ‘Sports need to be more inclusive’, suggesting there is clearly room for improvement within the sector.

Across all surveyed markets, the desire for sports to be more inclusive is the highest among Italian (84%), Argentinian (77%) and Indian (75%) sports fans. On the other hand, the support for considering diversity and inclusion when putting on events is more pronounced in countries like Indonesia (75%), Germany (74%) and Poland (73%). The number for India is almost at par with the global average (63% of Indian sports fans vs 65% of global sports fans).

With the growing interest in social issues among sports fans, it has become increasingly critical for marketers to understand the attitudes of sports fans and develop strategies relevant to them in order to stand out among these ‘socially conscious’ groups of sports enthusiasts.

The company said it tracks about two million or more data variables from its global panel members in 49 markets, covering demographic, psychographic, attitudinal, and behavioural consumer metrics, with data collected daily and updated weekly etc,.

India’s sports media and sponsorship industry reached about 95 billion in FY20 but will be growing at a slower pace to reach 150 billion by 2024 said a report by sports-related employment agency Sporjo and FICCI. It said the industry grew at a CAGR of 14% till 2020.

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