- Share this article on Facebook
- Share this article on Twitter
- Share this article on Email
- Show additional share options
- Share this article on Print
- Share this article on Comment
- Share this article on Whatsapp
- Share this article on Linkedin
- Share this article on Reddit
- Share this article on Pinit
- Share this article on Tumblr
It’s official. Europe really, really loves women’s soccer.
The finals of the 2019 Women’s World Cup, held in Paris on Sunday, won the ratings war across the continent.
The Netherlands saw record figures, with 5.5 million people, or 88 percent of the viewing public, tuning in to watch their side go down 2-0 to Team USA. It was the most-watched women’s soccer match in Dutch TV history and the second time in a row a women’s match cracked the 5 million mark in the Netherlands, following Team Orange’s 1-0 semifinal win over Sweden on Wednesday, which drew a 79 percent share.
Before the 2019 tournament, the most-watched women’s match was the 2017 European final, which saw the Netherlands defeat Denmark 4-2 at home to win its first-ever international title.
But even the neutrals tuned in, with 5.26 million viewers, a 41.2 percent share, catching the match on France’s TF1, with a further 686,000, or 5.4 percent, watching on CanalPlus. Team USA knocked out the host team in the quarterfinals.
German viewership also cracked the 5 million mark, with 5.10 million watching, a 28 percent share. Germany, home of the two-time Women’s World Cup champions, was knocked out in the quarterfinals of this tournament.
In the U.K., a peak of 4.7 million (38.5 percent) watched the final match, impressive for a fixture without a home squad to cheer for. The English side was knocked out by Team USA in the semifinals in a game watched by 11.7 million on the BBC, the largest-ever audience in the U.K. for a women’s soccer match and the biggest audience for any program on the BBC this year to date.
Overall, the BBC announced Monday, a cumulative 28.1 million people watched coverage of the 2019 World Cup in the U.K., more than double the 12.4 million who watched the BBC’s coverage of the 2015 tournament in Canada. Though more favorable viewing times certainly helped this year —2019 matches in France often enjoyed primetime position on British TV — the surge points to a broader embrace of the women’s game. The BBC also reported some 13.1 million match requests, both live and on-demand, on its BBC iPlayer and BBC Sports platforms.
“This World Cup was the most memorable to date and it has engaged sport fans across the U.K.,” said Barbara Slater, director of BBC Sport, in a statement. “The BBC is committed to growing the women’s game and our free-to-air coverage has ensured the tournament reached the widest possible audience. This was the first major event to kick off our Change The Game season and it’s record-breaking viewing figures didn’t disappoint.”
The public success of the 2019 Women’s World Cup could prove a watershed for the women’s game and the business of women’s soccer. Front and center is the issue of financial parity with the men’s game. Three months before the tournament kicked off in Paris on June 7, the members of the U.S. women’s team sued their employer, the U.S. Soccer Federation, for gender discrimination, citing wages and working conditions inferior to those of their male counterparts.
Chants of “Equal pay! Equal pay!” rang out from the stands in Paris following the final whistle, a sign that the game’s fans are not willing to let the issue slide. Seconds after Team USA were declared back-to-back World Cup champions, the hashtag #EqualPay began trending on Twitter.
— Scott Dworkin (@funder) July 7, 2019
July 8, 7:26 a.m. This story has been updated to include more ratings information from the BBC.
Sign up for THR news straight to your inbox every day