The good news first: women's sports represents 15% of sports media coverage in 2022. The not so good news - on linear tv, women's sports only represents 5% of media coverage - and here's why it matters:
Although media consumption is shifting to a more digital first world, the mast majority of sports is still consumed on linear channels. This linear consumption fuels higher viewership numbers, which in turn creates billions of dollars in advertising revenue for the media companies, which in turn creates a bigger price tag for rights fees, which in turn allows for higher player salaries, which in turn creates superstar athletes, which in turn creates more fans who want to tune in, and so the cycle continues.
It is clear that for women's sports to generate the revenue that will propel the growth that is needed for the leagues to be successful and for the athletes to make even a fraction of what the men earn, more women's sports must be on linear tv.
And for that to happen in 2024, it is imperative brands to continue to push their media partners to air the women's sports that they sponsor in primetime on broadcast networks; and we need media companies to create designated windows and promotion on linear channels where fans will know where and when to tune into women's sports. For years media companies have designed days/nights around key men's sports to create appointment viewing for both the passive and avid sports fan - why not create those same franchise positions with promotion and tune in for the NWSL, WNBA, NCAA WBB, volleyball, softball, soccer, and the list goes on?
Women's sports fans have always had to work hard to find the sports they wanted to watch on a myriad of streaming channels or social networks, and I don't see that interest and consumption waning if more games were added to the linear broadcast schedule. To me, its just good business to add more women's sports to the broadcast prime schedule, perhaps not in place of live men's sports, but in place of sports studio shows and lower rated non sports programming.
Case in point, Sunday’s NCAA volleyball match between No. 2 Wisconsin and Minnesota was the most-watched in NCAA history, with an average of 1.66 million viewers.
According to Just Women's Sports, the game was featured on FOX, filling the 4 p.m. ET NFL window for regions without a football game. In total, 76% of the United States received the broadcast on FOX. The match averaged more viewers than Formula 1 racing on ABC, the Premier League on NBC and NFL Countdown on ESPN.
As the data shows, the audience for women's sports is young, tech savvy and a almost 50/50 split between males and females, in fact, per Kanter, 62% of Gen Z fans say they would watch women’s sports if it was easier to find, who wouldn't want that the next generation sports fan tuning in on their network?!?
Check out the full media coverage report from Wasserman here and do your part to drive the 15% upwards!