Sky Sports recorded a peak audience of 482,000 for the WSL clash between Liverpool and Chelsea, making it the pay-to-view network’s most watched WSL fixture to date.
It marked a substantial 56% increase on last season’s WSL opening game on Sky Sports and highlights the growing demand and popularity of women’s football off the back of Euro 2022.
The average audience for the live match came in at 381,000, marking a 21% of the 2021/22 average.
Last season was the first time that WSL games were shown live on Sky Sports as part of a multi-year broadcast deal along with the BBC, that made women’s football more accessible to a wider audience. It was the first time that broadcast rights had been sold to the domestic market and has changed the landscape with greater production value and associated content.
“Great to see such an exciting start to the WSL season and we were delighted that a record number of fans tuned in to the live game on Sky Sports. We have a great opportunity to build on the success of the Lionesses this summer and will be working hard to encourage as many viewers as possible to tune in this season,” Sky Sports managing director Jonathan Licht said.
“As the leading investor in women’s sport in the UK, we are proud to be a partner of the WSL and will continue to support the growth of the women’s game throughout this season and beyond.”
Speaking as a panellist at SportsPro in April, Sky Sports executive Gary Hughes revealed that WSL viewing figures last season had been even better than expected.
“Our numbers are up dramatically from what we anticipated, he said. “What we always set out to do was position the WSL alongside our other leading rights, including the Premier League.
“I think we’ve come across an evening kick-off [time] on a Sunday evening that inherits the audience of Super Sunday, which is huge.
“So you’re taking a big Sky Sports football audience into the women’s game. With ten WSL clubs [in 2021/22] being Premier League clubs as well, it means that the audience does carry over. Audience figures have been really good but our intention is to continue to try to grow the game.”