This week saw yet another breakthrough for women in the world of professional sports. It came when Nicky Morgan, Culture Secretary, announced that main female sporting events, should be included in the list of guaranteed free broadcasts on British television. She is a strong advocate for delivering equality within the world of sports and is convinced that male and female events should receive the same kind of air time.
The List of Free-To-Air Broadcasts
Roughly twenty years ago, British media compiled a list of the most significant events which was considered to be a matter of national interest. These events included Grand National horse racing, the Olympics and FIFA World Cup Finals. The games on the list were to be broadcasted entirely free to the British public on British television. These events were what they considered to be the crown jewels in the British sporting crown and that they should be available to all supporters, even those who don’t want to pay the subscription fees of the normal sporting channels like Sky. This would ensure that all have access to these events and not only those who can afford to subscribe. Morgan now stated that she took it upon herself to get into contact with those who hold broadcasting rights to specific events, advocating that major female events should be added to the list of free-to-air events. This should be done in such a way to create equality between the male and female sporting events which are aired free of charge.
Major Female Events
Morgan stated that the FIFA Women’s World Cup, which took place earlier this year, managed to achieve a viewer number exceeding all expectations when a record of 28.1 million viewers was set. She considers these events as vital to be broadcasted in a manner where all have access to viewing the action to give female sports a growing momentum for the future, by inspiring younger female athletes. She suggested that for every male sport event on the list, the female counterpart should be listed too. Morgan suggested that the Women’s FA and the Scottish FA Cup Finals should be added along with the FIFA Women’s World Cup. She furthermore suggested that when women’s Test Cricket matches are played, the highlights of these games can go onto a secondary list for highlight packages.
Britain’s Free-to-Air Channels
Currently, Britain has two free-to-air channels. The one is the BBC which is funded through television license fees, and the other is commercial ITV. Recently these two partnered up to create the Britbox, an SVOD (subscription video-on-demand) with a British focus. The estimated launch of the Britbox is set for the end of this year, and it will be available at a monthly fee of £5.99, which is on par with a Netflix subscription. The goal which they have set for the Britbox is to enable British television to stay relevant compared to other services like Netflix and the slightly cheaper Apple TV+.