Beyond Olympics, Super Bowl, Women Are Watching the Kentucky Derby and U.S. Open Tennis
By John Consoli -- Broadcasting & Cable, 10/9/2012 2:35:35 PM
But there are several major TV sports events that do draw significant concentrations of women, in the 33-45% audience range, and advertisers who have avoided those telecasts as a vehicle to target women should perhaps reconsider.
Brad Adgate, senior VP and director of research at Horizon Media recently released a report that includes assorted data about Olympics viewing. In that report, he also featured a list based on this 2011-12 Nielsen data on sports telecasts and women viewers.
The London Games audience in primetime on NBC had an audience makeup of 53.8% women, the highest concentration of female viewers of any major sporting event. The Kentucky Derby on NBC had the next highest concentration of women with 51.3% and the U.S. Open Men's Tennis Championship on CBS had an even split of men and women. Those two events had smaller total audiences.
The London Games drew an average of 31 million viewers per night over its 17 nights, while the Derby drew 14.8 million for its one annual telecast, with the U.S. Open Men's Tennis Championship drew 3.4 million. The Olympics also had a younger median age audience, 49.4, compared to the Derby (60.3) and Open tennis (56).
The Summer Olympics, although televised only every four years, draws more female viewers than any other sports event on television, and the recent London Games proved particularly strong for reaching women viewers.
"The London Games were known as the women's Olympics," Adgate says. "The U.S. Olympic team had for the first time more female athletes than males. In another first, every Olympic team had at least one female member. For the U.S., 63% of the gold medals were won by females, including the women's soccer, basketball and gymnastics teams."
Adgate says the 2008 U.S. Olympic team was comprised of 310 men and 286 women, while the 2012 U.S. team was made up of 269 women and 261 men. The U.S. women won 29 of the 46 U.S. gold medals at the London Games.
There has also been a steady growth of female athletes overall in the Summer Olympics, Adgate says. So if women want to tune into the Games to see women compete, there are now more opportunities.
In 1984, 24% of all Olympic athletes were women. That increased to 25% at the Barcelona games in 1992. By the 1996 Atlanta Games, the percentage of women competing in the Summer Olympics rose to 36%, and in Beijing in 2008 it was up to 42%. In London, that percentage reached 44%.
Adgate cites a study from Penn State and the University of Tennessee that shows female viewers prefer to watch the Olympics more than any other sport, including the WNBA and LPGA.
"The study found females prefer the way the Olympics are packaged, with an easy to understand narrative," Adgate says. "Females like the storytelling profiling Olympic competitors, as they don't have time to follow the athletes. The study also found that women prefer watching female competitions that highlight the athlete's fluidity and grace, as opposed to physicality and aggressiveness that is more identifiable with males."
As a result, Adgate says, the more popular Olympic events with female viewers are gymnastics and tennis at the Summer Games and figure skating during the Winter Games. Adgate adds, "One of the ratings surprises of the Summer Olympics was the popularity of archery, which was televised on [NBC Sports Network] during the daytime and averaged a surprising 1.5 million viewers. The event was especially strong with young females." He says the popularity of the movie The Hunger Games could have helped fuel that.
The single-day TV sports event that drew the largest female viewing audience was the Super Bowl on NBC, which had an overall 111.3 million viewers, with women making up 45.3% of that total.
Other TV sports events that got the highest concentration of women, according to Nielsen data, include: the U.S. Open Women's Tennis Championship (45.5%), the Euro Cup Soccer Championship on ESPN (42.4%), the World Series on Fox (38.4%), Stanley Cup Finals on NBC and the NBA Finals on ABC (both 37.3%), the Masters golf tournament final round on CBS (35.9%), the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship final game on CBS and the Daytona 500 on Fox (both 35.5%), the NCAA Women's Basketball Championship final game on ESPN (34.8%), the NCAA Men's Football BCS Championship game on ESPN (34%) and the U.S. Open Women's Golf Championship final round on NBC (33.6%).
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