The Women’s World Cup is projected to reach 2 billion viewers, nearly doubling the audience from the previous competition in 2019, which saw 1.12 billion fans tuning in.
Value of increased followers on social media
As anticipation builds now that that tournament has kicked off, participating athletes are experiencing a surge in interest, particularly on social media. Swiss star Alisha Lehmann’s Instagram followers have reached an impressive 13.4 million, marking a remarkable 75 percent increase over the past year. The increase in athletes’ following holds significant value, with a single Instagram post by Lehmann estimated at an impressive $307,000 in media value to a sponsor, according to Nielsen Sports.
Women’s sports are witnessing an upward trajectory in both popularity and value, with the growth no longer solely reliant on quadrennial events like the Olympics or World Cups, though such tournaments undoubtedly boost their appeal. Investors, who have historically been on the sidelines of women’s sports, are now presented with a promising opportunity to capitalize on this upward trend and the increased popularity of the sport.
Growth potential of female athletes
While women athletes have not yet reached the same level of financial earnings of their male counterparts, their growth potential surpasses that of men. Notably, the value of women’s professional soccer franchises in the US has increased over 10-fold in recent years, indicating the rising interest and demand for women’s sports. For instance, in Los Angeles, the Angel City FC team paid a significant $2 million fee to join the National Women’s Soccer League in 2020, while in April, a group led by private equity firm Sixth Street committed a record $53 million expansion fee to establish an NWSL team in San Francisco.
However, despite the promising prospects, investors must address certain challenges. Men’s team sports hold an established presence as media properties and enjoy prime television viewing slots that women’s sports currently struggle to challenge. This discrepancy is further evident in the amount of televised sports news and highlights dedicated to women’s sports, which remains disproportionately low at 5.4 percent.
Media deals and sponsorship
Yet, women’s sports have experienced a shift over the last half-decade, driven by a younger generation of fans embracing the social activism inherent in women’s sports, such as #MeToo and gender equality. The growth of streaming, online highlights, and social media has made women’s sports more accessible, driving increased fandom and activism. Fans are not only drawn to their favorite athletes’ social causes but also the sports they excel in, contributing to the business of women’s sports.
The commitment to gender equity and social causes drives media rights deals and sponsorships, with sponsorships for women’s sports growing 20 percent year-over-year worldwide in 2022. Notable deals, such as Ally Financial Inc.’s multimillion-dollar ad buy across ESPN properties directing 90 percent of the money to women’s sports, demonstrate the growing support and interest in women’s sports.
The increasing viewership and engagement in women’s sports are propelling the value of women’s sports leagues and franchises. Notably, the WNBA’s Seattle Storm sold a 14 percent stake in the team at a remarkable $151 million valuation, over ten times the previous record for a WNBA team.
Although major men’s sports currently hold higher values, women’s sports are displaying extraordinary growth potential. The Women’s World Cup serves as a testament to their cultural relevance and lucrativeness. For investors seeking a piece of the global sports market, the time to seize this promising opportunity in women’s sports is now.
Venues in Australia and New Zealand
The highly anticipated FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 is taking place across 10 venues in and around Australia and New Zealand from July 20 to August 20. The tournament is featuring 32 top national teams from five different confederations, vying for the prestigious title of football world champions. The teams will be divided into eight groups, each comprising four teams, and will compete in a single-headed round-robin format during the group stage. Following this stage, the top two teams from each group will progress to the knockout phase, beginning with the round of 16. The final match is scheduled for August 20.