Where are all the Women?

New research highlights the continued lack of visibility of women’s sports coverage across five European countries.

New research, co-funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union, was shared at Women in Sport’s Empower Conference in London, 18th October, highlighting that women’s sport is often ‘barely visible’ in all five nations studied.

FOPSIM attended along with the rest of the partners the conference in London, where key findings from each country where presented and the importance of making sportswomen visible in the media was discussed. As shown in the research, Malta is one of the countries with the lowest visibility of Sportswomen in the media, along with Greece.

With evidence of some countries failing to achieve more than 2% of coverage for women’s sport and around 30% of some channels having zero women’s sport coverage in some periods, this research shows there is still a long way to go in achieving parity for women’s and men’s sport

Key findings from ‘Where are all the Women? Shining a light on the visibility of women’s sport in the media.

  • Women’s sport media coverage lags significantly behind that for men’s: Across all five countries, despite the variation in the extent of coverage, women’s sport is significantly less visible than men’s sport and does not reflect the extent of high-level, exciting women’s sport taking place. Men’s sport accounted for over 80% of coverage in the UK, Sweden and Malta, with football a significant driver of this. In Greece and Romania, men’s sports coverage was a little lower at 70% and 60% respectively (with more mixed sport covered), but still dominated.
  • Levels of visibility need to be elevated: in four of the five countries, women’s sport failed to achieve above 10% of all sports coverage. Coverage is at its lowest in Malta and Greece, where it failed to achieve more than 2%. In Sweden and the UK, the picture was variable, achieving between 3-6% (Sweden) and 4-10% (UK). Romania had the highest and most consistent coverage, peaking at 14%, predominantly driven by tennis champion, Simona Halep, helped by her celebrity status in the country
  • Pay TV is dominated by men’s sport programming: 31% of the channels monitored showed only men’s sport (23 out of 74). Some free-to-air (FTA) channels, as well as Eurosport, provided coverage of women’s sport to a greater extent through major mixed events. FTA channels have an important role to play in reaching new and larger audiences.

The challenge uncovered by the research is maintaining women’s sport coverage outside of just international competition. International competitions underpin higher coverage periods, although outside of these events, reporting diminished considerably when domestic competition was all that was available.

In terms of the quality of coverage of women’s sport, in the UK, 58% of women’s sport articles (online and print) and 51% of men’s sport articles, used action images, indicating a more equal tone of the sports coverage. In Sweden however, action shots were only used in 47% of women’s sport coverage compared to 67% of men’s sport articles.

In the UK, 31% of articles (online and print) used gender tagging – ‘women’s’ events for example, compared to only 3% of men’s sport articles. In Sweden this was just 2% for women’s sport articles by contrast

A number of best practice tools and initiatives have been outlined in the report, which were discussed and debated at the Empower Conference, sponsored by Skoda. The conference saw trailblazers, record breakers and campaigners discuss and celebrate how sport can help us to reach a fairer future. For more information on the conference visit www.womeninsport.org

Notes to Editors

The EU funded five organisations; EILD (Greece); FOPSIM (Malta); West Universtiy Timisoara (Romania), Girls in Sport (Sweden), and Women in Sport (UK) to explore the visibility of women’s sport in the media.

Nielsen Sport conducted primary research, providing an up-to-date measurement of women’s sport coverage in terms of quantity and quality aiming to uncover any disparities between men’s and women’s coverage, key areas where change might be needed and best practice in media coverage of women’s sport.

All countries hosted in-depth ‘information sessions’ with journalists and broadcasters to discuss the research and ways in which the media and sports organisations can be supported to increase and improve coverage of women’s sport

There were two parts to the research:

  • Quantitative: measuring the volume of coverage across different media types in the countries. 2 x 1-month monitoring periods, staged at peak & off-peak times for major women’s sporting events.
    • TV – all countries: analysis of broadcasting listings across *10-15 channels
    • Online – all countries: analysis of up to *15 key sports media websites
    • Print – UK only: analysis of 15 key publications

*number of channels/websites monitored varied by country

Greece 23 July 17 – 23 Aug 17 06 Oct 17 – 06 Nov 17 TV; Online
Malta 28 Aug 17 – 28 Sept 17 01 Nov 17 – 01 Dec 17 TV; Online
Romania 10 July 17 – 10 Aug 17 15 Oct 17 – 15 Nov 17 TV; Online
Sweden 01 Sept 17 - 30 Sept 17 01 Mar 18 – 31 Mar 18 TV; Online
UK 23 July 17 – 23 Aug 17 28 Oct 17 – 28 Nov 17 TV; Online; Press
  • Qualitative: reviewing the nature and tone of coverage for UK, Sweden and Romania. 5 case studies per country across different media platforms
    • TV – reviewed around 20 hours of coverage for UK, Sweden and Romania
    • Online – reviewed selected major events online coverage for UK, Sweden and Romania
    • Print – Reviewed selected major events print coverage for UK only

Following the research, all countries hosted in-depth ‘information sessions’ with journalists and broadcasters to discuss the implications of the research, understand why certain things are happening and ways in which the media and sports organisations can be supported to increase and improve coverage of women’s sport.

Broadcast audiences for major women’s competitions have grown considerably. Audiences are comparable and, in some cases, greater than men’s sport events. For example:

  • UEFA Women’s Euros 2017 = 149.5m
  • ICC Women’s World Cup 2017 = 97.4m
  • Formula E 16/17 = 53.8m
  • Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017 = 33,9m
  • ER Champions Cup 16/17 = 28.8m
  • Lions Tour 2017 = 25.2m
  • Ryder Cup 2016 = 20.9m

Project: NEWMAGS
Date: 1.11.2018