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Women’s football lifts the Barbie Never Fail curse 

By Brad Rees, CEO, Mediacells

The FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023™ continues to excite global audiences on and off the pitch, despite the Down-Under time differences.

The tournament in Australia and New Zealand has been a moment for Women’s football.

There are only a few more sleeps until the World Cup final between Spain and England at the Stadium Australia in Sydney on Sunday August 20.

Back at the beginning of the tournament the United States Women’s National Team’s (USWNT’s) first victorious match against Vietnam coincided with the opening night of Greta Gerwig’s box office smash ‘Barbie’ and the Los Angeles Times Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Mary McNamara wrote that the two events “felt like a triumph of feminism”.

Refreshingly, in France, there was an Orange-sponsored advert for the national team called ‘La Compil des Bleues’ which appeared to show highlights from the France men’s football team, including superstar Kylian Mbappé scoring great goals – until the second half of the ad revealed it was actually the France women’s team players who had been swapped out with the men’s images, using CGI Adobe After Effects magic.

Once the tournament got underway market researchers such as Euromonitor began forecasting the Women’s World Cup would ‘nearly double’ from the 1.12 billion viewers who tuned into official broadcast coverage in 2019.

Early broadcast figures from FIFA show that the 2 billion broadcast audience is on track to being realised – with China reportedly reaching 150 million unique viewers by CCTV’s linear television coverage of the tournament (11.7% of the potential TV audience) and additional coverage airing on CCTV and iQIYI (Shinai) digital platforms. 

Meanwhile, on Digital and Social – FIFA’s native platforms had already surpassed the entirety of the 2019 tournament within the first 14 days, welcoming 22 million unique users by the Group Stage.   

At the same time, more than three 3 million hours and 14 million streams had been watched on the official free, ad-supported streaming FIFA+ apps and connected TVs.

For younger football fans the FIFA Women’s World Cup™ TikTok account almost doubled its following during the Group Stage, from 1.1 million followers on 19 July to more than two million.

The World Cup, in all its manifestations, is like your summer holidays; you start off thinking you have loads of quality experiences ahead of you and then, before you know it – it’s those last few, accelerating days before real life comes crashing in on you again. 

And like a good holiday, when you look back on it, it’s the magic moments that persist, rather than that stand-up row with the budget car rental outfit.