Women’s game brings over a million extra viewers to Rugby League World Cup

MORE than a million people watched women’s matches on TV but not men’s at the Rugby League World Cup last year, according to new research.

For the first time, the competition last autumn featured both men’s and women’s action alongside each other, as well as a wheelchair tournament.

The BBC provided unprecedented TV coverage, broadcasting or streaming every single match of the World Cup, which was hosted by England.

And the effect of that platform for the women’s game has been highlighted by the Women’s Sport Trust, whose research showed that those matches attracted 6.3m live viewers in the UK.

Of those, 20% (1.3m) watched the women but not any men’s matches, indicating an interest in the Rugby League World Cup only for that tournament and demonstrating the potential of the women’s game to grow Rugby League’s audience as a whole.

The research also noted that the male/female ratio of the viewing audience was the same for both the men’s and women’s World Cup tournaments, with 60% of the audience male and 40% female.

This was the second-highest female proportion across a number of different men-only and women-only sporting events in 2022 compared by the study.

And the average audience for televised men’s World Cup games was 680,000, compared to an average of 509,000 for women’s matches – the closest gap of any comparable major events in other sports.