Women’s World Cup final ratings in Europe stifled by time-zone effect

(Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)
(Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

European viewing figures outside of Spain and the UK for the 2023 Fifa Women’s World Cup final suffered from a time difference effect with average audiences mostly down on the 2019 final played in Lyon, France.

The midday (CET) kick-off for Sunday’s showpiece match in Sydney compared to the 5pm slot in 2019 impinged on the viewership in the major markets of France and Italy, along with other smaller territories.

France Télévisions netted an average of 2.7 million viewers and a 24.4-per-cent audience share for live coverage of the Spain-England final on its France 2 channel according to figures from Médiamétrie.

The previous Women’s World Cup final (between the USA and the Netherlands) attracted around 6 million viewers in France, benefitting from a surge of interest in the host country. Commercial network TF1 then pulled in an audience of 5.3 million viewers (a 41.2-per-cent share) with pay-television broadcaster Canal Plus delivering an average audience of 685,000 subscribers.

Italian public broadcaster Rai opted to show Sunday’s final on its Rai Sport channel as opposed to one of its main networks. The match drew an audience of just 499,000 viewers (a 4.6-per-cent share) with additional streaming viewers following on Rai Play.

The 2019 final was watched by an average of 1.47 million viewers (a 13.4-per-cent share) on the Rai 2 channel. The match was also shown on pay-TV broadcaster Sky Italia.

The German figures held up well in comparison, however, with an average of 5.4 million viewers (a 41.8-per-cent share) watching Sunday’s final on public broadcaster ZDF.

The 2019 final was watched by an average of 5.1 million viewers (a 28-per-cent share) on fellow public broadcaster ARD. That match was also broadcast behind a paywall in Germany on DAZN.

Time-zone impact was one of the main sticking points in protracted negotiations between broadcasters in major European markets and Fifa over rights to the 2023 tournament. Free-to-air broadcasters in Europe’s ‘big 5’ countries finally secured the rights following the intervention of the European Broadcasting Union (analysis of the value of that deal published by SportBusiness Media can be read here).

In Norway, NRK registered an average audience of 218,000 for Spain’s triumph over England, down from the figure of 334,000 for the 2019 final.

Espen Olsen Langfeldt, sports editor at the public broadcaster, told the Kampanje media website in Norway: “We are actually quite satisfied with the numbers. There is some decline from previous finals, but that is due to the timing. And since we didn't get any Nordic teams in the final either, that also affects interest.”

There was little time zone impact in Spain where the final was comfortably the most-watched women’s football match of all time in the country. La1, the main channel of public-service broadcaster RTVE, drew an average audience of 5.6 million viewers (a 65.7-per-cent share).

In the UK, the 2023 Women’s World Cup final was shown by both public-service broadcaster BBC and commercial network ITV.

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