Peacock Gets Women Into the Streaming Sports Game

Peacock’s Telemundo-produced Spanish telecast of the U.S.-Netherlands Women’s World Cup match June 27 delivered a higher average minute audience than Fox’s English-language coverage.
Peacock’s Telemundo-produced Spanish telecast of the U.S.-Netherlands Women’s World Cup match June 27 delivered a higher average minute audience than Fox’s English-language coverage. (Image credit: Eric W. Rasco/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images)

When NBCUniversal acquired the rights to the U.S. Women’s Open golf tournament in 2021 as part of a multiyear agreement with the United States Golf Association, then-USGA CEO Mike Davis said he was “excited” about the increased exposure the tournaments would receive with the addition of NBCU’s streaming service, Peacock.

This past July, the USGA realized its goal of increased viewership and awareness through Peacock for the 78th U.S. Women’s Open. The tournament from Pebble Beach, California, finished as the most-streamed women’s golf tournament in NBC Sports history, nearly tripling its consumption from a year prior.

Peacock’s audience, combined with NBC’s linear TV coverage of the tournament over the July 8-9 weekend, averaged 1.34 million viewers, up 76% vs. 2022 (765,000 viewers) and 35% vs. 2021 (995,000 viewers).

“Across the board, the 2023 U.S. Women’s Open was a record-breaking championship, in large part due the commitment by NBCU to showcase the championship and its players with more programming across more hours, including primetime on the East Coast,” USGA chief commercial officer Jon Podany said. “The record-breaking streaming numbers on Peacock are a testament to that commitment, as well as the growing interest in the U.S. Women’s Open and women’s golf as a whole.”

Kelly Campbell

NBCUniversal president, Peacock and direct-to-consumer Kelly Campbell  (Image credit: Peacock)

Peacock’s commitment to showcasing live women’s sports programming extends beyond the golf links to a bevy of live-action sporting events featuring pro and amateur female athletes. The three-year-old streaming service has increased its women’s sports content by more than 20% in 2023, compared to 2022, offering high-profile events in figure skating, cycling, snowboarding, gymnastics, track and field and tennis. 

Teaming with NBCUniversal-owned Telemundo, Peacock streamed live Spanish-language coverage of all 64 FIFA Women’s World Cup matches this summer, a first for the streaming platform. The service hit paydirt on July 27 when the United States met the Netherlands. The match, which ended in a 1-1 draw, delivered an average minute audience (AMA) of 244,000 viewers, besting Fox’s English-language stream AMA of 197,000, NBCU said.

The U.S. team advanced to the knockout stage of the tournament but lost to Sweden on August 6.

More Events, Docs in Lineup

Still on the docket for Peacock in the women’s sports arena is live coverage of golf’s AIG Women’s Open and the LPGA Kroger Queen City Championship; the 2023 World Athletics Track & Field competition; the 2023 World Gymnastics Championships; Big Ten women’s basketball games; and the 2023 ISU Grand Prix Figure Skating event. 

In 2024, Peacock will focus its cameras on women’s sports events as it covers 2024 Summer Olympics from Paris. 

Beyond live events, Peacock is serving fans of women’s sports with documentary programming. Notable on that front are originals Golden: The Journey of USA’s Elite Gymnastics, which chronicled the journey of five elite American gymnasts as they headed to the 2022 Summer Olympic trials, and The ’96 Effect, which profiled the 1996 U.S. women’s softball, soccer and basketball teams.

NBCUniversal president of Peacock and direct-to-consumer Kelly Campbell discussed the growing appeal of women’s sports programming and offered an overview of the streaming service’s strategy for acquiring and streaming women’s sports content in an interview with Multichannel News. A lightly edited version of the interview follows. 

MCN: What is Peacock’s strategy with regard to its investment in live women’s sports programming?

Kelly Campbell: Live programming — and sports in particular — has been core to our strategy from day one, and women’s sports is an important part of that. Fandom is a key component of the Peacock brand, and we want fans of women’s sports, which has a passionate and growing audience, to look at Peacock as their streaming home. This year we have about 20% more women’s sports than last year and women’s sports will continue to play an important role as Peacock continues to grow. 

MCN: Why is there such a growing audience interest in live women’s sports content among viewers? What are Peacock’s plans to add more women’s sports programming to its overall lineup of live sports programming? 

KC: Beyond meeting the demand for women’s sports, we are investing in it and helping to fuel it. Making women’s sports available on streaming is pivotal to the continued growth of these events because it makes them easily accessible and available to a broader audience than ever before. Without the restrictions of traditional programming and the ability to watch on-demand, streaming unlocks even more possibilities for fans.

MCN: What impact has Peacock’s Women’s World Cup coverage had on its strategy of showcasing live women’s sports content?

KC: This summer, we’re particularly proud that in partnership with Telemundo all 64 matches of the FIFA Women’s World Cup were available to stream on Peacock in Spanish. This is the first time the entire tournament has been available to stream, regardless of language, and it’s been a huge success both for Peacock and the sport. The U.S. vs. Netherlands match in the Women’s World Cup was the most-streamed Women’s World Cup match ever, proving that not only is there a passionate fanbase for the sport, but an interest in women’s sports on streaming that is very real. Similarly, as the streaming home of the 2024 Paris Olympics, Peacock will stream every single event for fans, allowing more access and visibility to a larger spectrum of women’s events and athletes that may not get the opportunity to be showcased in edited highlight reels or programming packages.

Average viewership for NBC’s coverage of Allisen Corpuz’s U.S. Women’s Open win was up 76% from the 2022 edition thanks to additional exposure on Peacock.

Average viewership for NBC’s coverage of Allisen Corpuz’s U.S. Women’s Open win was up 76% from the 2022 edition thanks to additional exposure on Peacock.  (Image credit: Glyn Kirk/AFP via Getty Images)

MCN: What advantage does the inclusion of live women’s sports have in attracting sports fans to Peacock and the streaming platform? 

KC: Peacock is the most complete streaming service and live sports are a great point of entry to Peacock. When fans of the Women’s World Cup or the LPGA come to Peacock for a specific event, we see them sticking around to explore our other offerings, including original series like Poker Face, new movies like The Super Mario Bros. Movie, a Bravo franchise, or more sports like the Premier League or Sunday Night Football.

MCN: How does non-live women’s sports-themed programming play into the appeal of women’s sports programming on the service?  

KC: For sports fans, we also offer so much more beyond live coverage. We are home to documentaries on a range of sports and icons including Golden: The Journey of USA’s Elite Gymnasts and Meddling: The Olympic Skating Scandal That Shocked the World, which were both nominated for Sports Emmys. We are also always innovating our product experience to bring sports fans closer to the action, particularly our “Catch Up with Key Plays” feature available in soccer matches that allows you to catch up on the action you missed without leaving the game. 

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.