28 Jan 2023

World Cup record viewership forecast for women

6:10 pm on 28 January 2023

Organisers of this year's women's football World Cup in Australia and New Zealand are hoping to attract record viewership of up to two billion viewers for the tournament, Football Australia (FA) chief executive James Johnson says.

FIFA World Cup tournament ball

Photo: Supplied: FIFA

A FIFA report published in 2019 said 1.12 billion viewers tuned into the 2019 Women's World Cup in France.

"I think (broadcast audience) is a very typical measure. If we can hit two billion people, that's really doubling the audience (from France)... We think that's achievable," Johnson told the BBC in an interview published on Friday.

"And we know we'll get a good audience from the traditional football markets, like the United Kingdom, like Europe. We're also in a time zone where all the big populations are. Our neighbours are China and Indonesia.

"We're very close to the West Coast of the United States. And we're also very close to India. So there's going to be so many people that would tune in and watch this competition."

The 2022 Women's European Championship, which was won by hosts England, had a projected global cumulative live viewership of 365 million, while a record crowd of 87,192 were at Wembley Stadium for the final.

"It was extremely inspiring. We were watching that tournament very, very closely. And we took a lot of learnings from that tournament," Johnson said.

"I think what we saw is, if your first game gets off to a strong start, it sets the tone for the tournament. And that's something we'd love to replicate here Down Under."

Johnson added that Football Australia was lobbying FIFA to change the venue of Australia's opening match from the 45,000-seater Sydney Football Stadium to Stadium Australia, which has a capacity of 80,000.

Australia start their campaign against Ireland before facing Nigeria and Olympic champions Canada in Group B.

The co-hosts enjoyed their first away win over European opponents since 2013 with a 3-1 victory against Denmark in October before beating Sweden 4-0 in November for their first win over a top-10 nation in over a year.

Johnson said the Matildas had been playing tougher opposition in the build-up to the Women's World Cup to improve their chances at the tournament.

"As a host we recognise the importance of the host nation going deep into the tournament, we saw that in England with the Lionesses," Johnson said.

"We think to keep the interest high, it is important that Matildas stay in... We think that the team, on their day, playing at home in front of large crowds, can go very deep in the tournament, and yes, it's possible they could win it."

- Reuters