Top-level traditional metrics do not favor women’s sports: women’s sport makes up just 10% of live sports broadcasts; and with a unique broadcast reach across the key sports of 5 million people it represents just 36% of the audience of men’s sport (13.8 million).

But women’s sport is growing and this is an indicator of future success. There are now seven professional women’s sports leagues, five of which have been established in the past five years. As popularity continues to increase, it’s inevitable that both brands and rights holders have questions about audience, engagement, opportunities and return-on-investment attached to women’s sport.

Overcoming barriers to engagement is key. Interest in women’s leagues and sports is higher when a free-to-air broadcasting strategy has been developed and executed. One-in-two (48%) people say they would watch more women’s sport if it was accessible on free-to-air TV or free online. Facebook is the most popular social media channel to follow women’s sport (87%), followed by YouTube (56%), and Instagram (43%).

The rate of change in women’s sport is one of the most exciting trends in the sports industry right now. At 5MW, we are committed to integrating women’s sport into our current platforms for more accurate and comparable measurement of key metrics. By collaborating with the industry, we also need to develop new inputs including digital, social, net promoter scores and growth indices to provide a more complete picture.

Making sense of what the future holds for women’s sport and the opportunities attached to it is fundamental. For rights holders, brands and the media, women’s sport represents a chance to develop a new commercial proposition and engage fans in a different way.