Jennifer Batty, European head of content acquisitions, Samsung TV Plus, speaks about how FAST could be important to the rise of women’s sport

england women's football euros lionesses

Women’s sport is enjoying some much-deserved time in the sun. The 2022 Women’s Euros pulled in a record 365m viewers and in the same year, Barcelona broke its own attendance during a Women’s Champions League showdown against Wolfsburg - with over 91,000 fans cheering inside the iconic Camp Nou stadium.

Research from the Women’s Sports Trust found that more than two-thirds of committed women’s sports fans (defined as “score five out of five on claimed passion for one or more women’s sports and watch 1 hour or more of live women’s sport content per week”) want more innovation in women’s sports coverage. What’s more, 82% of this group recognise the importance of sport being shown on free-to-air TV.

This is where free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) services have an opportunity to score a decisive goal. Leveraging innovative technology to deliver the content that fans are evidently clamouring to see can be the catalyst for FAST to establish itself as the home of women’s sport - both in the short-and-long term.

The warm up

The current economic downturn has prompted businesses and broadcasters alike to take fewer risks in general.  But sports - particularly global events such as the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 - are amongst the ‘safest’ bets you can make. These broadcasts have guaranteed massive audiences, both amongst existing fans and those suffering from FOMO (fear of missing out).

And where consumers go, you can be sure advertisers follow.

The demand for sports content is only growing - especially content that goes beyond live matches. And whilst linear broadcasters have previously prevailed in this department, there’s enough slice of the pie for other players to get involved.

A FAST counter-attack

Streaming services have greatly expanded their sporting libraries in recent years following this drive in appetite for behind-the-scenes footage, in-depth player interviews and archive footage.

In 2022, Disney+ fed this hunger when it launched Fearless, a mini-series going behind the scenes of the Australian Football League Women. The BBC followed suit with several dedicated documentaries including ‘Lionesses: Champions of Europe’ and ‘England’s Lionesses: Inside the Pride’- both of which gave football lovers another chance to relive the thrilling story of England’s victory in the Women’s Euro 2022.

This content has become a staple of both subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) and ad-supported video-on-demand (AVOD) platforms. And it hasn’t taken long for free ad-supported TV (FAST) channels to take note of this shift.

Sports content has been one of the driving factors in transforming the face of FAST. It has challenged the existing misconceptions that the quality of content isn’t able to match that of SVOD and linear.

DAZN, the over-the-top (OTT) streaming service, is a pioneer in this space. It has launched three FAST channels in the past year, with two of them - DAZN Rise and DAZN Women’s Football available on Samsung TV Plus - dedicated exclusively to promoting women’s sports. And with the Women’s Sports Trust reporting that 61% of committed women’s sports fans would like to see a dedicated women’s sports channel, this trend is only going to gather momentum.

FAST delivers the lean-back, free and live experience of linear - which sits at the heart of watching sports. And it isn’t just Dazn that is putting its eggs in the sports basket.

Samsung TV Plus - Samsung’s FAST service - recently launched the FIFA+ FAST channel ahead of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023,  offering originals, archive and highlights from the Men’s and Women’s games, catering to consumers’ desire for communal viewing experiences. Last year, FIFA saw staggering engagement as over 5 billion engaged with the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.

The Women’s Sports Network is also making groundbreaking strides as the first-of-its-kind to offer a 24/7 network dedicated to women’s sports. Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA), U.S. Ski and Snowboard, and World Surf League (WSL) are just a few of the sports covered on this network, increasing access, representation, and visibility for women in sports.

The ball is in your court…

The FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 has kicked off and this year’s event is forecast to be the highest-attended women’s sporting event in history.

Looking at the broader landscape, and the moves being made by FAST players such as Samsung TV Plus and DAZN, it’s clear that there’s an opportunity to change the face of FAST as the desire for more innovation in women’s sports coverage ramps up.

Jennifer Batty Samsung

Jennifer Batty is European head of content acquisitions at Samsung TV Plus