Demo Reel, Part 2: Though Outnumbered, Women Watch Sports in Big Numbers

Posted by | January 20, 2014 at 8:30 AM

Sports Media Watch presents a three-part examination of sports viewer demographics. Today, gender.

It should be no surprise that men watch sports in greater numbers than do women. However, when examining some of the highest-profile sporting events of 2013, women consistently made up more than a third of the audience.

Female viewers made up between 37% and 40% of the audience for the NBA Finals, with 10.6 million tuning into Game 7 — 40% of the total audience (26.3M). For the World Series, female viewers were 39-41% of the audience, topped by 7.9 million for Game 6 — 41% of the total (19.2M). Women made up similar proportions of the audience for the Stanley Cup Final (between 36 and 42%), NCAA Tournament Final Four (38-39%), Bowl Championship Series (33-36%), and WNBA Finals (34-40%).

chart1Of the events analyzed, tennis’ U.S. Open singles finals had the largest percentage of female viewers. Women made up 48% of the audience for the women’s final and 49% of the audience for the men’s final. Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final ranked third (42%), followed by Game 6 of the World Series (41%).

For the most part, older women watched sporting events in greater numbers than did younger women. The World Series, for example, averaged 2.9 million viewers among women 55+ — 6.6% of the 44.3 million women in that demographic. By contrast, the series averaged 922,000 women 18-34, just 2.7% of the 33.8 million women in that demo. For all-but-one event examined, the women 55+ demo made up a greater proportion of the audience than any other female demographic. The NBA Finals was the lone exception, as women 35-54 made up a greater proportion than any other female demo.

The NBA Finals, which skewed younger overall, outdrew all the other events examined among girls 2-17 and women 18-34. The NBA Finals was the only event where women 18-34 made up at least 10% of the audience for any game, and the only event to draw at least two million of those viewers for any telecast. Of note, there were more women 18-34 watching Game 6 of the NBA Finals than men 18-34 watching Game 6 of the World Series (2.3M to 2.1M).

The same trend held among male demographics. Men 55+ made up the largest proportion of the audience for the BCS, Final Four, World Series, U.S. Open finals and the WNBA Finals. The only exceptions were the NBA Finals and Stanley Cup Final, in which men 35-54 made up the greatest percentage of the audience. The NBA Finals averaged more viewers among boys 2-17 and men 18-34 than any other event examined.

chart2There were some instances in which women’s preferences differed from those of men. For example, more men watched the BCS National Championship Game (17.0M) than Game 7 of the NBA Finals (15.8M), and the BCS topped Game 7 overall (26.8M to 26.3M). However, Game 7 attracted more female viewers (10.6M to 9.4M).

The Rose Bowl, meanwhile, ranked among the five most-viewed sporting events among men (of the events examined), but just eighth among women.

Full data on gender is available on the following page. Part three of the ‘Demo Reel’ series will examine sports viewership by race.