Record-breaking Viewership and Rising Stars Propel Women’s Sports Toward $1 Billion Revenue in 2024

2023 marked a significant turning point for women in sports, characterized by landmark achievements such as the NCAA women’s basketball tournament and the Women’s World Cup.

In the coming year, the prominence of women’s sports is anticipated to soar even higher. The inaugural season of the Professional Women’s Hockey League commenced in January, heralding a new era. Moreover, the upcoming Olympic Games will make history by featuring an equal number of male and female athletes for the first time.

Deloitte predicts that in 2024, women’s elite sports will achieve a milestone by generating revenue exceeding $1 billion, marking a staggering 300% increase from the industry’s evaluation in 2021.

The precise catalyst behind the sudden surge in the popularity of women’s sports is difficult to pinpoint. Some fans attribute it to emerging young talents like tennis sensation Coco Gauff and college basketball star Caitlin Clark, who are captivating new audiences in their respective sports.

Meanwhile, coaches and sports executives credit the growth to increased investments in women’s professional leagues and expanded sponsorship opportunities.

The most-attended women’s sporting event ever took place on August 30 in Nebraska, where a college volleyball match shattered previous attendance records.

With a staggering turnout of over 92,000 spectators, the Nebraska Cornhuskers’ match against Nebraska-Omaha made history as the largest crowd ever to witness a women’s sports game.

This milestone was achieved at Lincoln’s Memorial Stadium, surpassing the previous record of 91,648 set in Spain in 2022 during a Champions League match between FC Barcelona and Wolfsburg.

Jordan Larson, a three-time Olympic medalist who played for the Huskers during college and later rejoined the team as an assistant coach in 2023, experienced the historic moment while traveling with the U.S. women’s volleyball team in Canada.

Reflecting on the event, Larson shared, “Two of the other former Huskers on the team, Justine Wong-Orantes and Kelsey Robinson, and I pulled up the stream and got chills watching from where we were, so I can only imagine what it felt like in the stadium.”

She further expressed astonishment at receiving messages from friends worldwide, inquiring about the unprecedented event unfolding in Nebraska.

The year 2023 witnessed record-breaking achievements in college women’s volleyball, with attendance at matches and television ratings skyrocketing, according to reports from the NCAA. The success of the summer match was credited with igniting a renewed interest in the sport, signaling a promising future for women’s volleyball.

Larson emphasized that the significance of the game extended beyond Nebraska, serving as a testament to the prowess of women in sports. “To see what it has done to the world of volleyball, and now the capacity for our sport, is huge,” she remarked, underscoring the broader impact of this monumental event.

The Impact of Caitlin Clark

Following Nebraska’s groundbreaking game, the University of Iowa women’s basketball team, led by 22-year-old Caitlin Clark, organized their outdoor preseason match in the football stadium, attracting a crowd of over 55,000 fans.

Caitlin Clark
Caitlin Clark: Record-breaking NCAA scorer captivates audiences, drawing celebrities and millions to women’s basketball. (Credits: X-formerly Twitter)

The massive turnout for the Hawkeyes’ game comes as no surprise, given Clark’s remarkable performance on the court, which continues to captivate both dedicated and casual viewers of women’s college basketball.

Clark, known for her exceptional shooting skills and impressive range as a point guard, has shattered numerous records in both men’s and women’s college basketball. Her latest feat occurred on March 3, when she became the NCAA Division 1 all-time leading scorer in a game against Ohio State.

Celebrities from various fields, including actor Jason Sudeikis and rapper Travis Scott, have been drawn to Iowa Hawkeye games by Clark’s exceptional talent.

Moreover, Clark’s stellar performance has significantly boosted the viewership of college women’s basketball. The 2023 NCAA Division 1 championship game, in which the Hawkeyes faced Louisiana State University, garnered nearly 10 million viewers on ABC and ESPN2, setting a new record for an NCAA women’s basketball game.

The “Caitlin Clark effect” is poised to influence women’s professional basketball, as Clark recently announced her decision to forgo her final season of college hoops and enter the WNBA draft.

Reflecting on her decision in an interview with “Good Morning America” co-anchor Robin Roberts on March 7, Clark expressed her readiness for the next chapter and the excitement of embracing new challenges. She remarked, “What I’ve been able to do here has been very, very special.”

Record Crowd Attends Historic WNBA Championship Game

The momentum for women’s basketball continued to surge in the WNBA, as the league experienced its most-watched season in 21 years.

On October 15, the New York Liberty made history by hosting the largest crowd ever recorded in the WNBA, with an impressive attendance of 17,143 at Barclays Center for Game 3 of the Finals against the Las Vegas Aces.

WNBA Championship Game
WNBA Championship Game. (Credits: X-formerly Twitter)

Despite the Liberty’s efforts, the Aces emerged victorious, securing their second consecutive championship and becoming the first WNBA franchise in over two decades to achieve this feat (following their 2022 championship win).

Reflecting on this monumental occasion, Liberty Head Coach Sandy Brondello expressed her awe at the attendance records set during the WNBA Finals. She emphasized the significance of providing women’s sports with the platform and visibility they deserve, citing Barclays Center as a prime example of this.

Brondello eagerly anticipates the upcoming season in 2024, expressing hope for even larger crowds and the possibility of surpassing more attendance records. The next season is set to commence in May, promising more thrilling moments for fans of women’s basketball.

Historic Milestones at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup

The 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, held across Australia and New Zealand in July and August, witnessed the shattering of numerous major records throughout its 64 matches.

With nearly two million spectators attending the tournament in person, it marked the highest attendance ever recorded in the history of the Women’s World Cup.

FIFA Women's World Cup.
FIFA Women’s World Cup. (Credits: X-formerly Twitter)

Dame Sarai Bareman, FIFA’s chief of women’s football, attributes much of the success of last year’s tournament to FIFA’s inaugural global strategy aimed at fostering women’s participation in soccer, which was introduced in 2018. This strategy encompasses various development programs tailored for aspiring female athletes, along with initiatives aimed at expanding the sport’s fanbase worldwide.

Reflecting on the decision to expand the tournament from 24 to 32 teams, Bareman recalls initial concerns about the readiness of the women’s game and the potential imbalance in competitiveness. However, she emphasizes that the tournament ultimately showcased the remarkable strength of women’s soccer on a global scale, dispelling any doubts.

The 2023 World Cup, which generated over $570 million in revenue, is regarded by Deloitte as a pivotal moment in the advancement of women’s professional sports.

Bareman concurs, highlighting the emergence of new stars, packed stadiums, and widespread global attention garnered by the tournament. She emphasizes the significance of such events becoming the norm for the next generation, both young girls and boys, as they witness top-tier football showcased in sold-out stadiums.

Sajda Parveen
Sajda Parveen
Sajda Praveen is a market expert. She has over 6 years of experience in the field and she shares her expertise with readers. You can reach out to her at [email protected]
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