Women's World Cup match attracts bigger TV audience than cricket

England’s victory over Scotland attracted average audience of 4.6 million, compared with 550,000 for men’s cricket

Women’s football is now more popular than cricket – at least when it comes to TV ratings.

England’s victory over Scotland in the Women’s World Cup attracted an average audience of 4.6 million viewers to BBC One on Sunday evening. This set a new record for a women’s football match and left the broadcaster hopeful that millions of viewers will continue to tune in as both national teams progress through the tournament.

By comparison coverage of England’s matches in the men’s Cricket World Cup has been averaging a mere 550,000 viewers, despite cricket’s status as a traditional British summer sport and the tournament being hosted in the UK.

While women’s football is exploding in popularity and benefitting from the BBC’s promotion on its free-to-air channels, live cricket has been mainly confined to Sky Sport’s paid-for packages for the last 14 years, restricting the number of people who can watch.

This has revived longrunning concerns that, despite the substantial funding provided by Sky’s investment in the rights to show cricket on television, it is undermining the broad appeal of the sport.

England Cricket World Cup viewing figures peaked at the end of last Monday’s showdown with Pakistan, when Sky attracted a combined audience of 1.3 million viewers to the final minutes of its coverage of the match, according to official figures provided by the analysis company overnights.tv.

By comparison the England v Scotland women’s football match – in a sport that has until recently been overlooked by traditional media outlets – peaked at 6 million viewers on BBC One, with many more watching on online streams, which are not included in the official TV ratings.

Live English cricket largely vanished from free-to-fair television screens in the mid-2000s, when high-profile test matches could attract peak audiences of more than 8 million viewers.

Legal restrictions mean that public broadcasters can still show highlights packages. However, Channel 4, which has the rights to show Cricket World Cup highlights on free-to-air, have been showing the programme late at night, with some programmes starting after midnight and struggling to attract more than 500,000 viewers.

The BBC is attempting to revive interest in cricket among the wider public by screening a new competition called the Hundred from next summer. But until then cricket administrators may need to look to women’s football for inspiration.


Jim Waterson Media editor

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Record TV audience watch England in Women's World Cup
Quarter-final victory over Norway attracts peak figure of 7.6 million on BBC One

Sarah Marsh and Frances Perraudin

28, Jun, 2019 @11:56 AM

Article image
England 2-1 Scotland: Women's World Cup 2019 – as it happened
Minute-by-minute report: England got off to a winning start as they survived a second-half rally by Scotland to claim three points in their World Cup opener

Gregg Bakowski

09, Jun, 2019 @6:12 PM

Article image
Women's World Cup 2019: England draw Scotland in group stage – as it happened
England are joined in Group D with Scotland, Japan and Argentina, while holders USA will meet Sweden again, who knocked them out of the 2016 Olympics amid notably narky circumstances

Stuart Goodwin

08, Dec, 2018 @6:24 PM

Article image
England’s Euros triumph draws record TV audience of 17m
Audience peaked at 17.4 million viewers, making it the biggest UK television event of the year to date

Mark Sweney

01, Aug, 2022 @11:05 AM

Article image
Clinical Nikita Parris has X-factor to inspire England's World Cup challenge | Eni Aluko
Forward starred in assured victory for Phil Neville’s side over Scotland to begin campaign in confident style

Eni Aluko

10, Jun, 2019 @5:27 PM

Article image
2019, World Cup fever No 2: England and Scotland go for glory in France | Louise Taylor
The 2019 Women’s World Cup is set to be the most competitive yet and England, who meet Scotland in their opening game on 9 June, are genuine contenders

Louise Taylor

01, Jan, 2019 @10:00 AM

Article image
Tourmalet tussles, Women's World Cup finals and when bees attack | Classic YouTube
Also featuring a touching tribute to Marcus Trescothick, a referee’s DJ set and an Afcon bicycle kick

Guardian sport

04, Jul, 2019 @9:16 AM

Article image
Bronze and Parris chemistry too potent for Scotland | Suzanne Wrack
Nikita Parris will join the Lucy Bronze at Lyon next season and the England pair showed against Scotland in the World Cup exactly why they have been signed by Europe’s leading club

Suzanne Wrack at Allianz Riviera, Nice

09, Jun, 2019 @9:57 PM

Article image
Karen Bardsley questions ‘cruel’ VAR decisions after Scotland penalty drama
England’s goalkeeper Karen Bardsley has expressed misgivings about the use of VAR to judge the movement of goalkeepers

Suzanne Wrack in Nice

20, Jun, 2019 @10:33 PM

Article image
England's World Cup defeat to USA watched by 11.7m TV viewers
Defeat of Phil Neville’s team was most-watched British television broadcast of the year

Jim Waterson Media editor

03, Jul, 2019 @9:45 AM