Brands missing out by ignoring female sports

Women’s sport is being ignored by sponsors despite the growing popularity of female sports stars and an appetite for more coverage of women’s events, according to a leading think-tank.

Ellen Macarthur
Ellen Macarthur

The Commission on the Future of Women’s Sport – which includes figures from sport, business and the media – has called on brands to take advantage of what they claim is an “uncluttered” area that offers affordable sponsorship properties.

In a report, “Prime time: The case for commercial investment in women’s sport”, the Commission calls on the commercial sector, rights holders, broadcasters and government to work together to “capitalise on a market that has great potential but remains under leveraged.”

The report attempts to demonstrate that women’s sport is popular but under represented in the media, presenting an opportunity for brands.

It claims half (50%) of the UK’s sports fans believe womens sport is on the way up, compared with 36% for male sports, while 44% believe the quality of women’s sport is much better than 10 years ago. It found that 54% feel women’s sport is just as exciting as men’s and 61% of sports fans state that they would watch more women’s sport if it were televised.

It adds that some female athletes, such as sailor Ellen MacArthur (pictured), have high recognition levels but most, such as footballer Kelly Smith (17%) have struggled to build a high profile despite on-field success.

Karen Earl, chairwoman of sponsorship consultancy Synergy, says: “From a sponsor perspective, women’s sport offers a unique opportunity. It is a particularly uncluttered area – something that is quite an issue for sponsors in men’s sports. This report suggests that there is a desire for wider coverage and this, togetherwith the chance for brand domination, would add to the sponsor appeal.”

The survey polled 2,084 sports fans in November 2009.

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