The professional volleyball V-League begins today (16th) with a match between Woori Card-Korean Air in the men's division and GS Caltex-Heungkuk Life in the women's division.

Ahead of the opening, good news was delivered.

Spectators will soon be able to enter due to the changed COVID-19 distancing policy.

However, it seems that most volleyball fans should still feel the fun of volleyball on TV, as indoor sports only allow admission to 20% of the capacity.

Professional volleyball games are broadcast live every season on the sports cable channels 'KBS N SPORTS' and 'SBS SPORTS'.

The Korea Volleyball Federation (KOVO) compiles and announces the average viewership ratings for the regular season every season.

In terms of stocks, it can literally be seen as a 'blue-chip stock'.

Comparing the figures is surprising.

The ratings for women's volleyball were only 0.45% in the 2011-12 season 10 years ago, but recorded 1.23% in the 2020-21 season, a whopping threefold increase.

From the 2019-20 season, it overtook the men's division, and in the 2020-21 season, it even surpassed the ratings of 'professional baseball', which is called the most popular sport in Korea.

What is the reason for the high ratings of women's volleyball?

'Kim Yeon-kyung and International Competitiveness'...

The driving force behind the rise in ratings

The biggest driving force behind the high ratings of women's volleyball is 'international competitiveness'.

And at the center of it is Kim Yeon-kyung.

Kim Yeon-kyung, who joined Heungkuk Life Insurance in 2005, has grown beyond domestic women's volleyball into a world-class player in 2010, and the status of women's volleyball began to change little by little.

The national team, led by Kim Yeon-kyung, began to gain international competitiveness and literally suffered a 'big accident' at the 2012 London Olympics. At that time, the women's volleyball team was on a winning streak, reaching the quarterfinals for the first time since the 1976 Montreal Olympics. Unfortunately, they failed to win the medal, but the myth of the quarterfinals of the London Olympics became a catalyst for the popularity of women's volleyball. The ratings for women's volleyball were only 0.45% in the 2011-12 season, but rose significantly to 0.67% in the following season.

The viewer ratings, which decreased slightly to 0.59% in the 2013-14 season, started to climb again with the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon. The women's volleyball team defeated China in the final of the Asian Games in Incheon to win the gold medal for the first time since the 1994 Hiroshima Games and for the second time in history. Winning the international competition held in Korea was very popular, and the 2014-15 season, which started after the Asian Games in Incheon, recorded an audience rating of 0.77%.

By winning the quarterfinals of the 2016 Rio Olympics and the bronze medal at the 2020 Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games, women's volleyball continued to boast of its international competitiveness. Naturally, the viewership ratings for women's volleyball also rose, and for the first time in the 2019-20 season, the average exceeded 1%. And in June 2020, Kim Yeon-kyung's popularity reached its peak when she announced her first comeback in 11 years. There was also a bad news about the school violence controversy between the twin sisters Lee Jae-young and Da-young of Heungkuk Life, but the ratings for women's volleyball was 1.23%, a record high.

In the summer of 2021, women's volleyball once again achieved an unexpected semi-final at the Tokyo Olympics.

This is the reason why the audience ratings for the 2021-22 season, when the Taegeuk warriors who made a big impression in Tokyo, will be active, are more expected.

From 'Opening Game' to 'A confident competitor'

Women's volleyball has been treated as the 'opening game' of men's volleyball for a while since the launch of the V-League in 2005. Compared to men's volleyball, which captured the hearts of female fans with flashy stars, there was nothing to promote in women's volleyball.

In 2010, women's volleyball began to change. In 2011, the 6th club, IBK Industrial Bank of Korea, was established and has a professional league schedule. And as the power of the six clubs was leveled up due to active player movement, a fierce battle for ranking began to unfold.

As a result, in the women's volleyball season, all six clubs experienced the championship championship for 10 years from the 2011-12 season. Every season is an exciting league where the winning team is not easily predictable. On the other hand, men's volleyball was evaluated as having less fun as so-called 'volleyball volleyball', which focused on foreign players, dominated the league. In addition, Samsung Fire & Marine Insurance's dominance continued until the mid-2010s, and after that, several popular clubs took the lead in the league, showing deviations in viewership ratings.

The change in game time for women's volleyball in the 2018-19 season is also an essential part of the reason for the increase in viewership. Until just four years ago, the game time for women's volleyball was 5 pm (17:00), making it difficult to see the stadium and watch TV. However, as they gained competitiveness based on their international performance, the women's volleyball clubs requested a change to the game time, and from the 2018-19 season, the same schedule as men's volleyball began at 7pm (19:00). The 7 p.m. start, dubbed the 'golden hour' in sports, could provoke greater interest from fans and media.

More details can be found in the [V-League Women's Volleyball Perfect Guidebook 2021~22].   

Keywords: volleyball, news, gs caltex-heungkuk life, season, tv, ratings, women, locker room, trend, viewership ratings, volleyball team, viewer ratings, men, kim yeon-kyung, competitiveness