The year 2023 was a banner one for women’s sports. From smashed viewership and attendance records to stars like Caitlin Clark, Angel Reese, Coco Gauff, and Simone Biles fueling excitement. The latest CivicScience data show slightly more than a quarter (27%) of U.S. adults are at least ‘somewhat’ interested in watching or attending a women’s sporting event, including 12% who are ‘very’ interested. Here are three key insights to know about women’s sports courtesy of the CivicScience InsightStore™:

1. NCAA Women’s Basketball leads the way in fan interest.

Examining interest in specific sports reveals NCAA women’s basketball is the standout leader, with 25% reporting they’re most interested in following as fans will look to Iowa basketball star Caitlin Clark on her journey to break the Division I women’s scoring record. The WNBA (18%), the LPGA (16%), and the UFC (16%) round out the top women’s sports, according to CivicScience data. 

Take Our Poll: How closely do you follow women’s sports?

2. Women’s sports fans hold distinct preferences for retailers – especially for Kohl’s and Whole Foods .

A deeper dive into CivicScience data finds those interested in following women’s sports tend to favor different retailers than the general population. For instance, consumers who are at least ‘somewhat’ interested in following or attending women’s sports are more likely than the average U.S. adult to say they enjoy shopping at Kohl’s (+27pp), Whole Foods (+26pp), and Target (+18pp).

3. Professional Women’s Hockey is the next frontier, and it’s not just NHL fans who are excited.

One of the most noteworthy developments in the world of women’s sports so far in 2024 is the much-anticipated debut of the new Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL), officially beginning play on New Year’s Day this year. It’s been a successful first few weeks so far for the league, which currently features three American-based teams in Boston, Minnesota, and New York. 

Seventeen percent of Americans say they are interested in following the new league, including 7% ‘very’ interested. While interest in the NHL is an unsurprising likelihood for those also interested in the PWHL – 72% of whom claim to be NHL fans – as much as 28% say they are not NHL fans. 

Women’s sports could be primed for an even bigger 2024 thanks to a new eight-year deal between ESPN and the NCAA guaranteeing national coverage of women’s championships, as well as the upcoming 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris. Consumers interested in these sports and events will certainly be on the radar as we head deeper into 2024. 

Join the Discussion: Do you think women’s sports are growing in popularity?

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