Women's sports are gaining traction in an ever-changing sports landscape of the present, and according to YouGov’s latest report, about half (45%) of adult sports fans (who follow at least one sport) in the UAE claim they prefer watching women's sports to men's.
YouGov’s 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 sport worldwide, data from YouGov 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.’ There is significantly more interest among the younger generation since 44% of global sports fans aged 18-24 say they prefer watching women's sport over men's, compared to only 16% of global sports fans aged over 55.
Across all surveyed markets, sports fans in India are most likely to agree with the statement, followed by the sports fans in 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.
According to YouGov's Women in Sport Report 2021 from last year, women's soccer had the highest following of any women's sport, attracting 22% of the global population. In this year’s study when we specifically asked global sports fans and global football fans about their attitudes towards women's tournaments, more than a third (34%) of global sports fans said they are 'really passionate about women's football and the FIFA Women's World Cup'. The number for global football fans stands at 38%.
The UAE ranks second after India with more than two in five of all sports fans (42%) saying they are passionate about the women's football and the FIFA Women's World Cup and this percentage rises to almost half (46%) among soccer fans in the country. Germany (40%), Argentina (30%) and Spain (27%) are some other markets where sports fans display a relatively higher level of passion for women’s football.
Apart from favouring women’s sports and being passionate about women’s football tournaments, YouGov’s Global Profiles data shows that sports fans are also more likely than the average consumer to care about issues associated with diversity and inclusion. Since sport can bring people from different cultures and nationalities together, almost two thirds (65%) of sports fans agree diversity and inclusion should be considered when putting on events, and almost seven in ten (68%) global sports fans feel ‘Sports need to be more inclusive’.
While UAE sports fans express a greater desire for sports to be more inclusive than the global average (71% vs 68%), their support for taking diversity and inclusion into consideration when putting on events is at par with the global numbers (65% UAE sports vs 65% global total).
The strength of support for diversity and inclusion is evident across other regions as well, with more than half of sports fans in all surveyed markets agreeing that sports needs to be more inclusive, and that diversity and inclusion should be considered when staging events.
The growing interest in social issues among sports fans provides marketers with a great opportunity to create positive associations in the consumer's mind by tailoring their communications and making them relevant for this highly engaged audience.