The popularity of female sports athletes continues to grow. It’s about time for women to be compensated fairly and close the pay gap with their male counterparts. In 2020, the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) broke viewership records by nearly 300%, reaching 653,000 views. The 2020 NWSL challenge cup drew viewership on par with an MLB game airing in the same time slot. So, what change contributed to the rise of women’s sports?
Viewers want women’s sports. Sports fans are 49% women and 51% men, and 84% of sports fans are interested in female sportspeople. Additionally, the Olympic Channel found that 56% of engagement comes from women, and viewership of women’s content is 16% higher than men’s. Even with this demand, only half of the sports governing bodies have a boardroom of at least 25% women. Women face unequal investment and huge pay gaps. On average, female athletes are earning 63% of their male counterparts.
While fewer people are interested in female sportspeople vs their male counterpart, there is still a huge fanbase, with the potential fanbase in the millions. Interest is higher for women’s sports that are staged alongside men, including track and field and tennis. In 2020, women made up 40% of sportspeople, but only received 4% of sports media coverage. Media coverage is key for the future of women’s sports. They receive less coverage throughout the media, despite large fluctuations for major events. Lack of media coverage not only impacts viewership but creates missed opportunities for sponsorships.
Women’s sports represent a valuable sponsorship opportunity for brands, yet the lack of coverage impacts this potential. Just 0.4% of sponsorship dollars go to women, but 1 in 5 people is more influenced by sponsorships of female athletes than that of men’s. In addition, 3 in 4 people interested in female athletes can name at least one brand involved, and 63% of people believe brands should invest in both women’s and men’s sports. It’s time to invest in women’s sports for the benefit of everyone.