Daily BulletinDaily Bulletin

The Conversation

  • Written by The Conversation
imageEngland's Jodie Taylor prepares to score against Canada in the first half of the quarter finalEPA

When it comes to media coverage, the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada has already been a major milestone for women’s sport. According to official figures from FIFA, TV records have been broken in each round so far. With a total expected TV audience of more than 1bn viewers worldwide, the tournament is set to more than double the 400m viewers who tuned in to the previous Women’s World Cup in Germany in 2011.

The tournament has been embraced as a “truly marquee event” in Germany, Sweden, the US and France. The UK’s interest has been patchier. Even though this has been one of a few countries that have broadcast every game live, BBC coverage was only promoted from BBC Three to flagship channel BBC One for England’s historic quarter-final win against hosts Canada on Saturday June 27.

This was because the tournament has become a (seemingly unexpected) ratings hit, which has been echoed in other parts of the media. So will things now start changing for the sport in the UK – and women’s sport in general – or will it just turn out to have been a blip?

A predictable backlash

Until the quarter finals, the mainstream media in the UK paid sparse attention to the tournament at best. But even then, the broadcast commitment has attracted an angry backlash from those concerned about the male-dominated status quo of sport – in a pattern that has been well established over the years. In Scotland, for instance, the Daily Record ran a column a few days ago slating the BBC in particular for its “unjustified” investment in what has been a “borefest”.

The perceived poor quality of the football has been the most common criticism. Games are boring, apparently, and not very entertaining. I think it would be fair to say that the matches at this World Cup have been of varying quality, but this is normal in football – and exactly the same in all men’s World Cups. If there was similar outcry about a dull men’s international, we’d never hear the end of it.

Chauvinistic whingeing aside, the live TV coverage of all games and the fact that the tournament has had a (limited) media presence is an important shift – it was almost completely absent from the mainstream UK media before the World Cup began. And while previous news stories during the tournament were buried among Premiership transfer gossip and U21 European Championship reports, the England win over Canada was a lead story on the BBC and Guardian websites. This kind of visibility is vital if women’s football in the UK is to develop and grow.

The prospect of the Lionesses appearing in the final, or even winning outright, might bring about the sea change many supporters of women’s sport have been craving.

Why media interest needs to continue

It is crucial that media interest in the sport continues in the UK once the tournament is over. Recent research by the Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation found that only 7% of all sports coverage is devoted to women’s sports. TV tends to be the most “generous”, with roughly 10% of coverage. Newspapers are particularly stingy, devoting a meagre 2%.

imageAll the men’s sport that’s fit to printEPA

The Olympics and Commonwealth Games are among the key exceptions. The London 2012 Games came close to achieving coverage parity for male and female athletes, as did the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. A major bugbear for advocates of women’s sports has always been that we revert to the status quo once these events come to an end. Indeed the rationale behind this research was to find out whether the London Olympics had made a lasting difference to the problem. It clearly hadn’t.

One study of six UK national newspapers – the Sun, Mirror, Times, Telegraph, Mail and Express – in fact suggested that they produced fewer stories about women’s sport than before the Olympics.

Poor media coverage has major implications for the wider sporting landscape. It is a major barrier for sustained commercial investment in almost all women’s sports. It should not come as a surprise that women’s sport accounts for an appallingly low 0.4% of all commercial spending on sport in the UK. Female athletes are often reduced to relying on the exposure that they can gain during big events like the Olympics to ensure their financial survival. Lack of coverage also has important consequences for grassroots participation.

This is why it is so encouraging that a fundamental change for women’s football could now be around the corner. Yes it’s a chicken-and-egg scenario and media presence doesn’t necessary come first. But the media is unarguably a driving force, so it has the power to make all the difference. As things stand, I think it’s been a fantastic tournament (turf wars aside).

As USA/Germany and England/Japan line up for the two semi-finals, it promises to be an exciting finish, too. It’s still hard to be overly confident that mainstream UK media interest in women’s football will survive much beyond the final, but I would be only too happy to be proven wrong.

Katharina played women's international football at Under-21 level for Germany

Authors: The Conversation

Read more http://theconversation.com/how-the-british-media-woke-up-to-the-womens-world-cup-44035

'The essential is invisible to the eye': the wisdom of The Little Prince in lockdown

arrow_forward

As 'lockdown fatigue' sets in, the toll on mental health will require an urgent response

arrow_forward

That'll do, pig, that'll do: Babe at 25, a trailblazing cinematic classic

arrow_forward

The Conversation
INTERWEBS DIGITAL AGENCY

Politics

Scott Morrison: the right man at the right time

Australia is not at war with another nation or ideology in August 2020 but the nation is in conflict. There are serious threats from China and there are many challenges flowing from the pandemic tha...

Greg Rogers - avatar Greg Rogers

Prime Minister National Cabinet Statement

The National Cabinet met today to discuss Australia’s COVID-19 response, the Victoria outbreak, easing restrictions, helping Australians prepare to go back to work in a COVID-safe environment an...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Prime Minister Interview with Tracy Grimshaw

TRACY GRIMSHAW: Prime Minister, thank you for your time.    PRIME MINISTER: Great to be here. Thank you for the opportunity.    GRIMSHAW: A month or so ago, you probably thought that today's...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Business News

Reinventing The Outside Of Your Office

Efficient work is a priority in most offices. You need a comfortable interior that is functional too. The exterior also affects morale. Big companies have an amazing exterior like university ca...

News Company - avatar News Company

Kaspersky and Ferrari partnership: tailoring cybersecurity for an iconic brand

Kaspersky is commemorating the 10 year anniversary of its strategic partnership with iconic, global brand - Ferrari. The cybersecurity company is a sponsor of the brand’s Formula One racing team...

News Company - avatar News Company

Instant Steel Solutions Review

Are you keen on having the right guidance, knowledge and information about the right kind of steel purchases for your industries? If yes, then you are in the right place. There is no doubt that ...

a Guest Writer - avatar a Guest Writer



News Company Media Core

Content & Technology Connecting Global Audiences

More Information - Less Opinion