We’re Tuning in to Women’s Sports; But Won’t That Change as Other Sports Return?

Have you found yourself watching cornhole tournaments, or perhaps reruns of old football games? Americans desperate to watch sports will go far afield of their normal interests just to see competition. To prove the point, just look at women’s sports.

An average of more than 650,000 viewers tuned in to watch the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) Challenge Cup on Sunday, a whopping 300% increase from 2019. In basketball, the Women’s National Basketball Association’s (WNBA) opening day attracted its most viewers in eight years as an average of 539,000 watched the Los Angeles Sparks and Phoenix Mercury.

This is not a judgment on those sports. They could be awesome. But it’s obvious that, if not for the pandemic, most sports fans would be watching men’s baseball, hockey, basketball, or the French Open. This logic seems lost on some people.

Nancy Lough, a professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas focused on sports marketing, said:

“These numbers are significant because they are evidence that the economic viability of women’s sport is continuing, despite this unprecedented time. I believe we are now seeing sustained momentum.”

Maybe.

David Carter, a professor of sports business at USC and principal at the Sports Business Group, cautioned that it could be too soon to say whether the trend will continue.

Carter said:

“The early numbers are encouraging.  Only the passage of time will determine if these early ratings successes are sticky.”

Yep, let’s revisit this six months after the pandemic has passed.

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