FIFA has set itself a target of one billion television viewers for the 2019 Women’s World Cup. The initial numbers are an indicator that the world governing body for football is on course to achieve the goal.
The tournament opener between hosts France and South Korea has shattered many records and myths about television audience potential for women’s football. The game on Friday has bettered the previous TV audience record for a women’s football match by more than 250%.
A total 9.83 million fans had tuned into French free-to-air broadcaster TF1 to watch France drubbing South Korea 4-0. There were another 800,000 on Pay-TV channel Canal+, taking the total to 10.6 million. On the day 44% of the total TV audience in France were watching the FIFA Women’s Football World Cup 2019.
The gross numbers were over 250% higher than the previous record of 4.12 million watching a women’s football match in France.
For comparison, TF1 secured 12.6 million viewers for France’s opening game against Australia at last year’s men’s World Cup in Russia, states a Sportspromedia.com report.
British public service broadcaster the BBC reported a peak audience of 2.9 million for the opening game, despite the England team not being involved in the game.
The BBC’s coverage of England’s 2-1 win over Scotland on Sunday had attracted a peak TV viewership of 6.1 million and a 37.8 per cent share of the available audience, making it the UK’s most watched women’s soccer game of all time.
In the US Fox Sports recorded significant growth for the first two days of the international tournament, with its metered market Nielsen scores up 11 per cent over 2015 and 79 per cent over 2011.
Meanwhile, ahead of the tournament, FIFA announced that it had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with UN Women to increase its efforts to empower women around the world and achieve gender equality.
“This is a significant moment for FIFA as we combine forces with UN Women to realise gender equality for women both on and off the pitch.” said Fifa president Gianni Infantino. “Together, we will raise awareness about women’s football and its impact in terms of health, empowerment and positive role models for women and girls around the world.”