Issue No. 04: The Business of Women's Sports

The business history of women’s sports has definitely provided substantial challenges for those partaking. From the 1900 Olympics being the first with female participation to the national Football Association (FA) banning women from playing on Football League grounds from 1921 - 1971 to the first woman running the Boston Marathon in 1967 to the United States and Canada Olympic teams including more women than men by 2012, women have steadily gained ground in the world of professional sports.

So, let’s get down to business: monetization.

Historically, professional sport revenue valuations are based on three main pillars: TV rights, event-day attendance and sponsorships. Of all, women’s football (soccer) has seen the largest TV audiences with the 2019 Women’s World Cup final drawing 22% more audiences than the men’s final in 2018. In the United States, the first National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) game in 2020 had 572,000 viewers - breaking the record for audiences.

Of the global value of $44.9B in sports sponsorship, women’s sports has a fraction. In 2018, VIsa signed a seven-year deal with the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) and Vitality was named sponsor of the 2019 Netball World Cup as part of a three-year extension to an existing sponsorship deal. In an effort to promote equality, some sponsors are spending equal amounts of sponsorship dollars to both women’s and men’s teams including Adidas who sponsored six women’s teams at the Women’s FIFA World Cup in 2019.

What about the investment space?

In late 2020, a new NWSL team launched in Los Angeles by a group of Silicon Valley venture capital funds: Angel City FC. With a team consisting of leading experts like Julie Uhrman, Natalie Portman, Mia Hamm, Serena Williams, Lindsey Vonn, and Sophia Bush, we expect great things from the ACFC. Women’s sport represent a valuable sponsorship opportunity for brands. With an average deal size increase of 49% and sponsorship deals increasing by 37%, the opportunity is massive for those willing to lead the charge.

Who are some of the players to look out for?

We found this great article published by Worth recognizing the 21 Most Powerful Women in the Business of Sports including recognizable figures like Michele Roberts - Executive Director of the NBPA, Sally Bergesen - Founder and CEO of Oiselle, Cynthia Marshall - CEO of the Dallas Mavericks, and Jeanie Buss - President of the Los Angeles Lakers.

Bottom line: it’s time to invest in women’s sports.