Sponsorship for women’s sports events is growing at an annual rate of 37%. The numbers are released in a Nielsen study, which also reveals that 66% of the global population are interested in at least one women’s sport. Among the general sports fans 84% have interest in women’s events.
The encouraging numbers headlined a special session ‘The Business of Women’s Sport – Stepping up the Game’ at SporTel Monaco 2019 this week.
Emilie Montané, Media and Production director, French Tennis Federation, told the audience she was proud that tennis has a very strong legacy in gender equality. “The sport appeals to high female audiences both in terms of attendance and viewership,” she explained.
“The equal prize money is of course very important, this began at Roland Garros in 1973. We are very conscious of match scheduling, ensuring that we have two women’s and two men’s matches scheduled on the main court at Roland Garros. We try to drive a focus on women players through the sponsors and partners, and have courts named after women in the new stadium. We also look at gender balance for on-court interviewers and referees.”
With 63% of people believing brands should invest in both women’s and men’s sports and a fifth of the population being more influenced by sponsors of women’s sports than of men’s, Marco Nazzari, Nielsen Regional managing director, Europe, stressed the opportunities that shouldn’t be ignored.
The potential audience engagement was the strong message from Mark Parkman, managing director of The Olympic Channel. “We have created 19,000 pieces of content and 58% is based on women.”
He explained that they do not focus one way or the other, but that the best story wins. “56% of the engagement on all of our content comes from women, and it’s 16% higher on the women’s content than the men’s, showing how engaged a female audience is with women’s sport. We are seeing a large percentage of the male audience connecting with women’s content too.”
UEFA’s Guy-Laurent Epstein said that the focus needs to be on participation and perception. “A key element is about making sure the reach and the visibility of the competition is growing significantly. This is not only about women but also men following the sport. I think we can see very similar patterns of viewership in both women’s football and men’s football, which is showing a change in perception.” He cited that the women’s game has increased from 12–63% positive perception and is able to attract sponsors who are willing to invest, because they see the benefit of this genuine approach.
Nazzari finished the session with his advice for sponsorship “The key word is quality. This means the right type of sponsor, one that can increase the message you are giving. Maintain control of your content – keep the proper message. Don’t become too commercial.