The Women’s World Cup is just past the halfway mark and already it is on pace to break several viewership records, both in the U.S. and across the globe. 750 million people watched the tournament in 2015; FIFA estimates that nearly 1 billion could tune in this summer.
While the audience boost is a sign of growing interest in the women’s game around the world, it wouldn’t have happened if global broadcasters hadn’t decided to give female footballers prime-time slots on broadcast networks instead of cable channels.
Consider Fox FOX, +1.50% , which controls U.S. broadcasting rights to the men’s and women’s World Cups through 2026. None of the matches in the 2015 women’s tournament aired on Fox’s namesake broadcast network, limiting the audience to cable subscribers. This summer, 22 of the 52 games this summer are available over-the-air.
“I think there was just a belief on our part that there was a growing interest in women’s sports, women’s competition,” said Mike Mulvihill, executive vice president of research, league operations and strategy at Fox Sports. “We just wanted to try to put the same level of resources behind the Women’s World Cup as we would behind a men’s World Cup.”
An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.
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- ^ FOX, +1.50% (www.marketwatch.com)
- ^ An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com. (www.wsj.com)
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