BLOG | by YouGov Sport
The most-followed Winter Olympic sports, by men and women
At the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games, 45% of athletes will be women, a record for the Games which saw 41% at the 2018 version in PyeongChang. As the event strives for gender parity, YouGov data reveals which sports are most popular with women in the United States and United Kingdom, compared to men.
Two in five Americans interested in the Winter Olympic Games say they follow figure skating, making it the most popular Olympic sport in the United States (40%). However, we also see the widest gulf between men and women; 29% of men keep up with what’s happening in figure skating compared to 53% of women.
More data: The most followed summer Olympic sports
Ski jumping is the next most popular sport (33%) and is the most popular among men (35%). Slightly fewer American women follow the sport (30%). The games in Beijing will include a new mixed team event in ski jumping.
In fact, most the new events for 2022 are mixed, including the mixed team aerials in freestyle skiing, mixed team snowboard cross, and mixed team relay speedskating.
Speed skating is also the third most popular sport on our list, with a third of American Olympics fans following the event (35% men and 30% women).
Bobsleigh comes in fourth, with 27% of fans indicating interest in the sport, with a seven-point difference between men (31%) and women (24%). Also included in the slate of new events for 2022 is the monobob – a solo version of the bobsleigh event – which will be a women’s only event.
Further down our list is ice hockey, which is worth noting because another significant gender divide appears. While about a quarter of Olympics fans overall pay attention to the sport (24%), only 17% of women do so, while 30% of men tune in.
Fandom in the Kingdom
The popularity of Olympic sports in the United Kingdom shows similar patterns to the US, with some notable differences. Ski jumping, bobsleigh, and figure skating top the UK list, but speedskating is significantly lower on the list at No. 9 (16%). Generally speaking, winter sports are less popular in the UK than in the US.
Curling enjoys roughly the same fandom in the UK (20%) as in the US (19%), but appears much higher up on our UK list.
As in the US, figure skating is popular, but much more so with women (36%) compared to men (10%). Looking at ice hockey, another gender split also appears in the UK: 11% of Olympics fans overall follow the sport, but men (15%) are more likely than women (8%) to do so.
The Olympic Games is perhaps the most important sporting event to help lift up women’s sports in general. A YouGov whitepaper from last year found that a plurality of global consumers say they get interested in women’s sports because they’ve watched an international event like the Olympics.
Keeping tabs on what sports draw female viewers in is a key aspect to driving gender balance in sport.
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Methodology: Interviews conducted between December 1 and October 31, 2021. Sample sizes were 25,898 UK adults and 63,252 US adults who are a little interested or somewhat interested in the Winter Olympics, or say it’s one of their top interests. The Global Fan Profiles tool is available in the following markets: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Columbia, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, UK, UAE, USA, and Vietnam.
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