News and Insight

Why Brands Need To Switch On To Women's Sport

In the ongoing discourse surrounding women's sport, a pressing question emerges: Why is women’s sport so undervalued when it comes to sponsorship revenue? Culturally, what is holding us back?  

These are questions we will explore in the coming weeks as Right Formula engages with various stakeholders, including athletes, team managers, brands, Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs), and cultural anthropologists, to highlight the potential of women’s sports for brands. 

For brands aiming to enhance their visibility and public perception, sponsoring women’s sports offers a significant opportunity. Recent studies indicate that 29% of people view brands more favourably if they sponsor women’s sports, compared to 17% for men’s sports. Additionally, fans of women’s sports show a 54% higher brand sponsor awareness than fans of men’s sports. 

Despite these promising statistics, only 9% of a brand’s sports marketing budget is allocated to women’s sports. This discrepancy raises questions about the underlying assumptions guiding sponsorship decisions. However, a closer examination reveals that the commonly held belief that women’s sports yield lower returns on investment (ROI) than men’s sports sponsorships does not hold up under scrutiny. 

Recent research suggests that 70% of women’s sport fans would think more positively about a brand if it sponsored their favourite sport. This is only true for 46% of men’s sport fans. Even more excitingly for brands, 64% of women’s sport fans would be more likely to purchase from a brand if they sponsored their favourite sport, compared to 39% of men’s sport fans.  

Furthermore, women’s sports are witnessing a surge in engagement, with viewing figures soaring by 131% year-on-year. Notably, the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup final garnered a peak audience of 12 million viewers on BBC One, surpassing viewership for the men’s Wimbledon final in the same year. 

Similarly, in the United States, the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) and the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) are driving higher viewership numbers, with the WNBA averaging 560,000 television viewers per game. And if you want clarification on what the ceiling might be, you need look no further than ESPN’s recent $900 million investment in women’s collegiate sports. That kind of investment from a sports media giant like ESPN suggests, whatever the ceiling is, it’s currently not visible from where we are.  

It's important to note that this tidal wave of momentum has formed in the face of adversity as well. Despite the growing interest in women’s sport, it still only receives a seventh of the media coverage that men’s sport receives.  

Think what would be possible if the handbrake was taken off women’s sport; if women’s sport received investment reflective of the value it creates.  

With women’s sports projected to reach a valuation of £1.02 billion in 2024, and the global sports sponsorship industry projected to reach approximately $190 billion by 2030, the substantial growth potential in this sector becomes apparent. This untapped potential presents a compelling opportunity for brands, and it is only a matter of time before that handbrake is released, allowing brands to capitalize on the expanding market of women’s sports. 

While some brands are beginning to recognize this opportunity, progress remains slow. For instance, while 83% of brands intend to increase their investment in women’s sports in 2024, which is exciting at first glance, two-thirds of this cohort plan to do so by only 10%. 

So, returning to our initial question: Why, does women’s sport continue to be undervalued in terms of sponsorship revenue?  

Keep an eye on our website and our LinkedIn to stay up to date as Right Formula further explores.