The Biggest Consumers of Women’s Football? Men over 55

Men Over 55 Are More Likely To Have Watched THE FIFA Women’s World Cup and NRLW and AFLW Games, Than Anyone Else

New research from DemosAU has revealed that the biggest audience for women’s football is, in fact, men over the age of 55.

Queensland based pollster DemosAU asked 2,359 adult Australians in August which top flight football competitions they watched over the past 12 months.

Our national survey revealed that males over 55 were more likely to have watched the recent FIFA Women’s World Cup, as well as NRLW and AFLW games, than any other demographic.

Among this cohort, 61% had viewed a Women’s World Cup game, while 29% had seen an AFLW game and 23% had seen an NRLW game.

DemosAU Director George Hasanakos said men were the biggest consumers of women’s sport across all age demographics.

“This research shows that men, generally, watch more football than women, and men over 55 watch more sport than anyone else – and that extends to women’s football,” he said.

“Over 55s are generally regarded as more conservative than younger generations – and certainly we see that at a political level – but it seems that in this case, a love of sport trumps all.”

However, the research also showed that younger women were more likely to have watched a football match in the past year, compared to their mother’s generation.

Among women over 55, almost one in three (31%) did not watch any football games. That figure drops to 17% among women aged 18-34.

“Long ago, top level sport transitioned to a consumer entertainment product. Decades of effort to attract more female fans has spurred a generational change among women, in terms of their interest in watching a game,” Mr Hasanakos said.

The research showed NRLW and AFLW, after less than a decade since their inaugural seasons, have captured the attention of almost a third of NRL and AFL viewers respectively – with 32% of NRL viewers having watched an NRLW game, and 31% of AFL viewers having watched an AFLW game.

Nationwide, 38% of respondents had watched an NRL game, while 49% had watched AFL and 47% had viewed at least one game from the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

However, more respondents had seen an NRLW game (14%) or AFLW game (17%) than had watched either a Super Rugby or Rugby Championship game (11%). A-League viewership was also in line with the AFLW at 17%.

Rugby Union clearly plays second fiddle to Rugby League in Australia with only 11% viewership of Super Rugby/Rugby Championship nation-wide compared to 38% for NRL. In the Rugby heartland states this gap widens to 54% for NRL vs 14% for Super Rugby/Rugby Championship.

Further, top flight Rugby Union watchers are more open to watching NRL than the other way around. Among Super Rugby/Rugby Championship viewers, 77% viewed the NRL, whilst only 22% of NRL viewers watched Super Rugby/Rugby Championship.

More than 50% of outer metro and regional respondents (56% and 51% respectively) had watched an NRL match, compared to 44% of those in inner metro areas.

“The AFL has been more successful at winning over inner metro fans in Queensland, but the NRL retains its strength in outer metro and rural/regional areas,” Mr Hasanakos said.

“The NRL has had less success at winning over Victorian fans than the AFL has had in Queensland or NSW – 32% of people in Qld and NSW had watched an AFL match, while only 22% of Victorians had watched an NRL match.”

Mr Hasanakos said that the AFL was also more popular in its heartland states (Victoria, Tasmania, SA and WA) with 66% having watched an AFL game, than the NRL was in Qld and NSW (54% having watched an NRL game).

Mr Hasanakos said household income also had a noticeable impact on footy viewing habits, with those on higher incomes more likely to have watched a game across the codes.

For the FIFA Women’s World Cup, 37% of those earning less than $45K had watched a game, compared to 57% of those earning more than $200k.

DemosAU is a Brisbane-based market research firm, specialising in demographic polling. We’re committed to providing deeper and more accurate insights for less.