Trend Watch: What Marketers Need To Know About Women’s Sports in 2023
Assoc. Director of Marketing Insights & Content
Dec 29, 2022
The explosive growth of women’s sports is not just a passing phenomenon or trend. Over the last few years, increased viewership of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) and National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), alongside the creation of a dedicated women’s sports channel, have rightfully put women athletes into the spotlight. 2022 was a turning point in women’s sports as we saw double and triple digit increases based on year-over-year viewership of major women’s sports events.
With increased visibility across women’s sports, marketers and advertisers have the opportunity to reach younger, more diverse, and affluent audiences during this crucial airtime. To unpack this trend further, we took a look at some recent major women’s sports events to determine what we can learn from their growth.
Hard-to-reach audiences across the country over-index on women’s sports
In today’s fragmented media landscape, advertisers are tasked with finding desirable audiences over a multitude of platforms. Particularly lucrative is women’s sports, which attracts diverse and harder to reach audiences. In fact, 39% of Gen Z sports fans are watching more women’s sports than they were just one year ago. Samba TV data also found that women’s sports over-index in their share of younger and wealthier audiences.
During the WNBA finals and semifinals, Samba TV saw Black households, Gen Z (A20-24) households, and households in the $150k-$200k income bracket over-index based on viewership.
Audience interest in women’s sports knows no borders either, with both coastal and inland cities over-indexing to the NWSL championship game.
Leaning into women’s sports helps advertisers drive reach at scale
As viewership in women’s sports continues to grow, there are many more opportunities for brands to take advantage of in this space, not to mention revolutionizing the way advertisers tap in. According to data from Samba TV’s partner Relo metrics, an AI-powered sponsorship intelligence platform, in-stadium sponsorship during the Women’s Champions League semi finals had a 200% year-over-year increase in media value.
We’ve already seen smart brands take note of the popularity of women’s sports, with brands like Nissan, Capital One, and Geico advertisements during the women’s March Madness tournament reaching over 6M households throughout the women’s tournament.
Broadcasters should continue to invest in women’s sports
Women’s sports have historically struggled to gain significant advertiser traction because they have not benefited from the same network visibility of men’s sports. However, 2022 has seen increased visibility for these events, with both the NWSL finals and Game 1 of the WNBA finals broadcasting on network TV. The WNBA finals faceoff between the Las Vegas Aces and Connecticut Suns Game drew in more than 1M viewing households on ABC, more than double the average rating for every other finals games that aired on cable TV.
It’s clear that 2022 was a breakout year for women’s sports and a watershed moment for female athletes and the industry overall. Broadcasters that take note for 2023 and give women’s sporting events the primetime placement they deserve will see audiences and advertisers follow.
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