By Molly Cole, Account Executive
As we stand at the threshold of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023, the anticipation for what’s to come is palpable. This is not only a celebration of sporting excellence but also an opportunity to reflect on the journey of women’s football. From its difficult beginnings, exemplified by the Dick, Kerr Ladies in the early 20th century, to its current status as a burgeoning global spectacle, the growth of women’s football is something we are all keen to see continue.
A Century in the Making
Over a hundred years ago, the Dick, Kerr Ladies, a team formed of factory workers in Preston, England, defied societal norms and became beacons for women’s football. The massive turnout of over 53,000 spectators at their Boxing Day match in 1920, with more than 14,000 more potential spectators locked outside the stadium, is still the largest crowd a women’s club match in the UK has ever received.
Yet, this growth was impeded when the Football Association in England banned women’s football on its member clubs’ grounds, a ban that lasted an astonishing 50 years. Despite this, the spirit of the game lived on, kept alive by determined women who continued to play and inspire future generations.
Rising from the Shadows
Fast forward to the present day, and women’s football is in the global spotlight, rapidly growing in popularity and influence. This shift was emphatically highlighted during the Women’s World Cup 2019, which drew a record global audience of 1.12 billion.
According to a recent survey by Imagineear, the growth of women’s football is on an upward trajectory, with the survey revealing that nearly three-quarters of British football fans (72%) plan to watch the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Furthermore, the data shows that younger audiences show an even higher interest, indicating a promising future for the sport.
The Streaming Frontier and Media Goldmine
The rise in digital consumption has sparked a fierce streaming war among media companies. With its growing popularity and untapped potential, women’s football presents a significant opportunity for these companies.
Providing a high-quality viewing experience is paramount to maintaining the steady growth of women’s football and taking advantage of the shift to digital platforms. The anticipated high volume of streaming viewers for the World Cup 2023 underscores the necessity for robust and reliable digital infrastructure.
It is not only a high-quality stream that is demanded by the audience of today. When it comes to top-tier live sports, companies have to get creative -and fast. The Altman Solon 2022 Global Sports Survey revealed that audiences expect a more direct engagement with properties and prefer shorter-form, “snackable” content. Whether this is using AI for instant highlight creation (As utilized by Planetcast in this year’s IPL) or regionalized content to make highlights based on a viewer’s location, a sophisticated approach is essential.
A Brave New World
The Women’s World Cup 2023, taking place in Australia and New Zealand, promises to be a historic event. It will feature 32 teams for the first time, demonstrating the game’s global growth and inclusivity.
As we await the kick-off, it is clear that we are at the cusp of a new era in women’s football. At Platform, we are proud to be a part of this evolution, collaborating with pioneering companies driving the industry forward.
The future of women’s football is bright. The ascent has been hard-fought, but with each tournament, each new generation of players, and each milestone reached, we’re seeing the potential of women’s football being realized. The best is indeed yet to come.