The FIFA Women's World Cup starts this Friday, 20 July 2023 in New Zealand and Australia, and as a significant sponsor of many of the key players, Nike have launched their official campaign for the tournament called What The Football.
As much as the women's game is growing in popularity with both players and fans, it is still only about 20% of the size of the men's tournament.
As reported by Popsugar:
The final match of the 2022 men's World Cup had more than 1.5 billion viewers worldwide. FIFA estimates that around five billion people engaged with the tournament as a whole, including viewing content across an array of platforms and devices.
Meanwhile, the final match of the most recent women's World Cup in 2019 garned 260 million views worldwide, according to FIFA. The tournament as a whole had 1.12 billion worldwide viewers "on TV at home, on digital platforms, or out-of-home."
However to put these numbers into perspective when compared to other sports:
- The 2019 Men's Rugby World Cup Tournament in Japan drew a TV audience of 857 million people from around the world.
- The 2023 IPL cricket tournament in India registered 505 million viewers on television.
- The Tour de France only draws an audience of 1 billion viewers per year.
- Superbowl LVII apparently drew an audience of 115 million viewers this year.
The women's tournament may be significantly smaller than the men's tournament, but all of these other established tournament brands draw a smaller TV audience than the FIFA Women's World Cup (BTW this year is only the 9th time that the women's tournament is to be held).
Nike aggressively supporting this year's tournament and its players is not some DEI strategy move meant to draw favour with 'a more inclusively-minded audience' (as some critics have claimed) - it makes good commercial sense for them to be aligned with women's football, which as a sport is still growing rapidly.
Nike are taking a bet on the future of the sport - and it's a bet that is pretty much a sure thing.
Perhaps this recent Orange France ad, best highlights how many others are perhaps underestimating the women's game:
New Zealand will play Norway in the opening game at Eden Park this Friday and the final will take place on 20 August 2023 in Sydney.
The US are the defending champions, having won the last two tournaments in 2019 and 2015.