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As Women’s Sports Reign Supreme, Brands And Media Cash In


Women’s sports is officially entering its renaissance era. Deloitte predicted revenue generated by women’s elite sports to surpass $1 billion in 2024—a prediction that may soon become reality as more sports fans eagerly clamor for women’s sports content. This year, the NCAA women’s basketball tournament had more viewers than the men’s tournament, with Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese catapulting to stardom as the two rookies now take on the WNBA. It’s not only women’s basketball under the spotlight. This month, Disney is set to release a miniseries on tennis icon Serena Williams (sponsored by Morgan Stanley), and the Olympic Games Paris 2024 will have a 50-50 gender split between athletes for the first time in Olympic history.

The progress being made in women’s sports isn’t new. Last summer saw an incredible lineup of women’s sporting events that garnered global attention—from Wimbledon to the Women’s World Cup to the X Games to the second Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift. Unfortunately, what also isn’t new is the inequity women’s sports face compared to men’s. While the numbers paint a clear picture showing how wildly profitable women’s sports are when properly invested in—with brand, media and broadcast buy-in—women still have to fight to justify their seat at the table. For instance, although the 2024 NCAA women’s tournament had higher viewership than the men’s, the women’s tournament only made $6.5 million in TV rights compared to the $873 million the men’s tournament earned. In other words, bias against women is leading to objectively bad business decisions.

Watching last week’s thrilling Women’s Vert competition at the X Games and seeing the sheer talent and rapid progress women skateboarders are making, it’s remarkable to think that prior to last year, this event didn’t even exist. In fact, one of the most exciting X Games competitions—Vert Best Trick, a longtime staple for the men—was only added for women this year. If you happened to catch it, then you witnessed heart-pounding, jaw-dropping feats of athleticism, moving raw emotion and captivating drama, including when phenom Arisa Trew battled to become the first woman to land a 900 in competition and when 9-year-old Mia Kretzer made history as the youngest X Games gold medalist. It was everything that makes sports worth watching, and it’s easy to see how successful it should be from a business perspective—so how in the world did it take so long for women to get included in what’s supposed to be the mecca of skateboarding?

This year’s X Games also finally added Women’s BMX Park to its line-up, where Hannah Roberts—who will represent Team USA at the Olympics later this month—took gold. It’s a huge, hard-won step forward for women in the sport, and yet the X Games still doesn’t offer a competition for Women’s BMX Street, while the men have seven distinct BMX medal events. It’s hard to understand when you look at the numbers: according to the Bloom BMX, Women’s BMX Instagram Reels garnered over 3 million views for the X Games (over three times more than the men’s park collectively).

Recent research from Parity and SurveyMonkey found that 73% of those surveyed watch women’s sports (only 8% less than men’s sports), and 64% believe there’s not enough coverage of it. The survey goes on to find that 53% of all respondents globally believe brands don’t invest enough in women’s sports compared to men’s sports. This lack of investment is a significant loss for brands turning a blind eye to women’s sports, especially considering that 88% of those surveyed think pro women athletes are impactful role models and women’s sports fans are 2.8 times more likely to buy products recommended by women athletes.

It’s not just the coverage of women’s sports that is lacking—a study conducted by Klarna and Sports Innovation Lab indicates that 79% of respondents would purchase more women’s sports merchandise if more options were available to them. The data goes on to show that 60% of those surveyed intended to buy women’s sports merchandise but didn’t simply because there wasn’t any in stock, and women’s sports only have one piece of merchandise for every nine pieces of men’s sports merchandise that’s available. The demand is there and refusing to meet it is just bad business.

The numbers prove again and again that there is an appetite for women’s sports, so why aren’t more brands investing and cashing in? What will it take for sponsors to act in their own best interest? As American tennis great Billie Jean King told The Cut, “the men’s side has more money. But why do they have more money? Because media rights are where all the money is. We need to have more attention given to us. That’s starting to happen just now for the first time in my life. I’ve waited my whole life for what’s going on right now—things like billionaires investing in women’s sports.” King is also the founder of the Women’s Sports Foundation, one of the first organizations to increase funding in women’s sports. Sports are a business, and like any business, profit requires investment. Much like how there needs to be increased investment in women-led companies for them to succeed, more accelerators, venture capital funds and even individual investors are key to the successful profitability of women’s sports.

Corporate America is also starting to see what they’re missing out on by not collaborating more with women athletes and sports teams. AT&T and Amazon Prime Video struck up a sponsorship deal to cash in on viewership for the WNBA and NWSL, which would open the door for more brands to advertise with women athletes and sports teams. Sports leagues are also doing their work to make sure their athletes and teams are profiting off the popularity of women’s sports—the WNBA has been busy collecting brand partnerships including Glossier, Skims and most recently over-the-counter birth control company Opill.

It’s clear sports fans have a craving for more, whether it’s seeing increased coverage of their favorite teams or having more women’s sports merchandise options on shelves. Yet women athletes, teams and leagues have had to fight tooth and nail to get coverage and brand deals despite being just as, and in some cases more, popular than men’s sports. The numbers don’t lie, women’s sports are creating incredible business opportunities. And the progress in women’s sports is being made at breakneck pace; hesitate and you may miss your shot to score big.



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