NTUs Dr Ali Bowes discusses womens sports media coverage

NTU's Dr Ali Bowes discusses women's sports media coverage

 July 26, 2023

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In a year that sees an impressive Women's World Cup played out, Nottingham Trent University's (NTU) Dr Ali Bowes explains how there is an increasingly positive environment around media coverage of women's sport, especially women's football - and she also takes a look at some of the challenges that still remain.

An increase in women's sport media coverage

"This current World Cup is going to be the biggest and best World Cup that we've ever seen for women's sport broadly, not just in football, which I think is really significant. We saw it in the 2019 World Cup record viewing figures, we will definitely see records broken again for this World Cup," shares Dr Ali Bowes. 

There is a positive environment around the media coverage for women's sport. "I think lots of research is coming out that has shown a real increase in the media coverage for women's sport, especially football. We've got 130 per cent increase on media coverage in the UK, which the Women's Sports Trust found last year."

Challenges in improving media coverage 

"When we look at some of the challenges involved for improving media coverage, the main issue probably is around production value," explains Dr Ali Bowes.

"So we're getting more and more sport on TV, but now it's around how much investment is going into that coverage. So that might be the availability of studios and kind of technological support to really add depth and information for the viewers around the particular performance. We see that in the men's sport all the time and perhaps in some instances for women's sports events, we might just have a couple of presenters or commentators that are pitchside, and we don't have the additional technology that really helps viewers understand the nuances of the game," she explains.

Positive impact seen across society 

"The impact historically around a lack of media coverage has made it really difficult for women to make a mark in the space of sport. I think we've typically been seen as second class citizens in that space and the media coverage has perpetuated that idea for sure. Now we're getting more coverage, the real positive impact of that can be seen not just in sport, but probably more broadly across society in terms of really broadening expectations of what women can do. And we're getting female sporting celebrities like we've never seen before. I think if we think around like pop stars and the impact they can have on young girls, having female athletes take up that position as their role models and where they can engage with them, not just through television coverage, but also via social media networks," says Dr Ali Bowes.

"I think that's really positive and again just broadening out the possibilities for young girls as to what maybe they want to or how they want to live their life or making sport and physical activity a much more acceptable pursuit for girls and teenage girls probably as well, which is really important," she suggests. 

Focusing on the sociology of women's sport 

Dr. Ali Bowes is a Senior Lecturer in the Sociology of Sport.

Winner of the 2021 Vice Chancellors Teaching Award, she leads the first year module Sport, Culture and Society, whilst also contributing to the second year Sociology of Sport, the Body and Health module, and the third year Contemporary Issues in Sport module.  

She supervises research dissertations in the sociology of sport focusing on women's sport, related to media coverage, social media, gender and sexuality, professionalisation, and commercialisation.

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