Credit: Instagram/Lionesses

It’s no secret there has been in a shift in the popularity of women’s football this summer, with viewing figures breaking records, and new audiences being more engaged in the tournament than ever before. Now, data from PrettyGreen is showing that there was almost a 50/50 male to female split in social conversations around the tournament with almost all conversations being positive.

What we’ve seen during the  Women’s World Cup 2019 is summarised below(data covering 2 months, including the tournament and one month prior):

  • 95% of posts had a positive sentiment
  • 1,659 average daily universe posts – 5.45m total impressions
  • 54% female / 46% male voice split
  • 87% sentimental content – with pride, congratulations and great being the most used terms

Key Findings Men’s World Cup 2018 (data covering 2 months, including the tournament and one month prior):

  • 83% of posts had a positive sentiment
  • 21,412 average daily universe posts – 26.39m total impressions
  • 16% female / 84% male voice split
  • 77% sentimental content – with great, greatest, best, friendly and good being the most used keywords

In 2015, England competed in the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada. More than 750 million television viewers tuned in, despite games being aired live in the UK late into the evening. The five top-tier sponsors were Coca-Cola, Adidas, Hyundai–Kia, Visa, and Gazprom.

Credit: Instagram/Lionesses

Looking back on a tournament that drew in over 11 million TV viewers for one game alone in the UK alone, with six leading sponsors; Coca-Cola, Adidas, Hyundai-Kia, Wanda, Visa and Qatar Airways. England also secured deals with Boots, Budweiser and Lucozade ahead of the tournament.

Whilst there are the obvious factors that will help drive women’s football into the mainstream – such as widespread TV coverage, men’s stadium time and advertisement of the game – there is much more to be done for women’s football ahead of the 2020 Olympics and Euro 2021. But the reality is, we came 4th in the tournament, failing to secure the bronze medal. This means everything.

The simple question is, will people actually be interested? Those who already follow football closely would have felt the increased wave of support for the Lionesses, but in reality, this trend failed to trickle down to those who don’t. 28 million viewers worldwide is impressive (and an improvement from 12.4 million in 2015), but with more than half the world tuned in to watch the 2018 World Cup (FIFA, 2018) – there’s still a long way to go to close the gap.


The big clubs have a key role to play in how they advertise their players. Take a dedicated Man City fan as an example, who has followed the men’s team since their first home game visit to the Etihad. How many of their 37M fans knew that one of their players was leading their nation’s team into a World Cup? Even if they did catch a game this summer, they may not have even known that Houghton was one of their own.

Clubs have an opportunity to change this, both to help the women’s game live on domestically, but also stand to benefit financially. In theory, clubs could grossly increase their revenue through season tickets, merch and kit sales, simply by growing their consumer market by promoting the women’s team to a whole new fan base and demographic of supporter.


Media also have a responsibility to report on the WSL and women’s Premier League football. Currently, Harry Kane misses a Spurs game due to injury and receives blanket coverage on the back pages. Steph Houghton has yet to make print news for a Man City goal.

But women’s football is not men’s football and should be treated so. Every article or campaign on the women’s game does not need to draw a comparison to their male counterparts – it needs to be its own thing.


Branded content has clearly been a key driving factor in driving publicity of the women’s game, but frankly, they are still missing the mark and must not fall off now that the final whistle has blown. Ad measurement group Kantar warned that the crop of TV ads celebrating the Women’s World Cup were not likely to result in higher sales or esteem for the brands behind them.

Interestingly, it found that the gender of viewers made virtually no difference to how they felt about the ads, but whether or not they liked football did.