The growth and rise in popularity in women's sports are one of the most exciting trends in the sports industry right now. With great thanks to events such as the 2019 Women’s World Cup, female athletes around the world are receiving the international spotlight on the global stage. This upward trend gives those in the marketing industry an opportunity to partner with these athletes.
At the beginning of 2020, Deloitte published their annual article titled, “2020 Sports Industry Outlook”, breaking down the latest sports market trends. At the very top of the list was the rise of women's sports.
A league that has already undergone major change is the WNBA. Before the start of the 2019 season in June, The Athletic announced an expansion of its WNBA coverage, hiring 15 writers — beat reporters for each of the league’s 12 teams plus three national writers. SLAM Magazine launched new coverage of women’s basketball, and Bleacher Report created a vertical for women’s sports, with one of its focuses being the WNBA. The Chicago Sun-Times also announced that a local hospital would sponsor its expanded coverage of the WNBA’s Chicago Sky.
This change in media coverage has been long overdue and presents an opportunity for marketers to hone in on the game’s brightest stars, such as Elena Delle Donne. The Washington Mystics star forward and 2019 WNBA MVP has reaped the benefits of her likeness, scoring deals with Nike, DuPont, and Christiana Care, a regional health care system in her home state of Delaware. It’s likely that other rising stars around the league will begin to seek the path Elena took to become represented by these brands.
WNBA Champion and Distinction client, Tiffany Bias, has also found success with multiple unique endorsements, as she’s landed partnerships with brands like WeddingWire, LumiCharge, and Hilly. Although her social media following isn’t as large as Delle Donne’s, her engagement and content are excellent.
Elena and Tiffany are just two examples of female athletes gaining attention and popularity. The sports industry is missing a huge opportunity when it fails to acknowledge that 40% of all sports participants are female, yet women’s sports receive only 4% of all sports media coverage. Women are making money for corporations with unprecedented volume and marketers are finally paying attention.
When the U.S. women’s team captured their fourth World Cup title in 2019, Nike not only saw an increase in sales because of that relationship but also helped push forward the messages of gender equality and inclusion. The playing field is ripe to fully celebrate women and their athletic achievements. All of us in marketing and the sports industry must rise to the occasion to provide these spectacular athletes with the same opportunities as the men.