This week brings a genuine title decider of the kind top-flight English football rarely sees.
With three rounds remaining for the top sides in the Women’s Super League, two points separate Chelsea and second-placed Manchester City, who meet on Wednesday at City’s Academy Stadium.
It’s essentially winner takes all featuring many of the global elite — a recent ESPN ranking put Lucy Bronze, Sam Mewis and Rose Lavelle of City alongside Chelsea's Ji So-Yun, Fran Kirby, Pernille Harder and Sam Kerr among the world’s top 20 players.
But how many will be watching? The game will be screened live on BT Sport — in recent seasons estimates put peak viewing figures for WSL games on the network around 85,000.
The new broadcast deal for the WSL, announced last month, will mean up to 44 matches shown live each season on Sky Sports, plus at least 18 games per season live on free-to-air BBC One or Two.
And judging by the results of a new global survey of football fans, that increased availability should see ratings soar for the women’s game.
According to the research, carried out by runrepeat.com, viewing figures will increase by 300%-350% if games are “easily accessible on live TV”.
The survey, which polled 5,000 football fans globally, found that just 7.7% of UK football fans watched women’s league football. That figure is even lower (6.56%) for EU fans, and 6.4% in the US.
Interestingly, in the UK men are greater supporters of women’s football than women — the report finds that 61.4% of women’s football viewers are male.
This doesn’t hold true across the EU, where women are just in the majority, or in the USA, where the split is virtually 50/50.
The potential for growth in the women’s game is evident in the numbers who claim they would watch women’s football if it was easily available on TV — 30.70% of UK fans, 30.075% across the EU, and 29.4% in the USA.
If those intentions are carried out, women’s football would see a 296.70% increase in viewership in the UK, 358.70% in the EU, and 304.6% in the US.