Monday, October 3, 2011

The sports women watch

Shocking new finding ... wait for it ... women watch sports. News to rock your Monday folks, courtesy of the researchers at Nielsen Media. 
Anne Flore Marxer, snowboarder ... wonders at the genius of these boffins

Stephen Master, head of Nielsen Sports is quoted in this Forbes mag article as saying: "I don’t think people realize how big a percentage (of viewers) is women."  I tried to find the original report but none of the online articles link back to it (sloppy) and I don't have access to the Nielsen site but the stats generally reported point to women in the US making up to 1/3 of the audience for sports classed as 'male' like the NBA Finals, World Series, Daytona 500, and Stanley Cup Finals. 

You'd think that looking around the stadiums and stands for those games especially the football and the racing would give advertisers and media outlets a clue but apparently not. Masters also says in that interview that this 'trend' has been around for the best part of a decade. 

The report points out that women's sport is watched by more men than women, again not sure why this is new as you anecdotally you could predict that more men than women are interested in sport overall. But it's exciting to see American viewers tuning into the women's world cup in record figures even when compared with the male game.

What I'd like to see is advertisers and sponsors taking note of stats like these. The standards in women's sports is rising all the time - you can see the difference money and training makes. A little bit more of both and we can keep on narrowing the gap between the boys and girls.

Have you noticed any change in the audiences for your sport over the last few years?


Emmet Ryan said...

The primary issue for women's sport has long been getting more women to watch women play. Advertisers have long ago twigged that women watch sports, again no newsflash, just look at the advertising during Boxing of all sports to really twig it.

If advertisers know they can reach the female market better through male sports, which they presently do, they don't have the incentive to go hardcore after women's sport on a long-term heavy push basis.

The personal marketing and branding of some women's footballers, Americans in particular, gives some cause for optimism. Hope Solo and Abby Wambach have really pushed their own brands hard since the World Cup ended but the biggest professional women's football league, WPS in the US, remains a shambles.

As always, and I know I beat this drum for all minority sports, creative marketing and going after bloggers/journalists to make their lives easier will always lead to better coverage.

That's why a blog like yours does well, it gets the info out there. The more fuel minority sports put into these fires, the better chance they have of developing sponsorships long term.

niamh said...

@ Emmet - Agree with your 'primary issue' thought, I know plenty of women who watch the men playing GAA or rugby but have no knowledge of the women's game. It's a catch-22 because the standard is perceived to be lower but without audiences + funding the standard can't raise. Step by step, we'll get there :)

niamh said...

Interesting comment on this post over at Women Talk Sports from Ann:

"They discussed these numbers on a panel at the espnW summit last week. The panel was about female sports fans. For the NHL, NFL and NBA, the portion of the audience that was female was right around a third, sometimes slightly above. We had an interesting discussion about how these leagues can tap into that fanbase and attract more women. One suggestion was to stop insulting women with their Man Cave commercials and the like. We also discussed the cheerleaders. The NFL is talking about changing their uniforms to be more athletic and less provocative.

I think it's great more women are watching and attending these games, but I'd like to see them supporting WOMEN'S sports too. I know that isn't as easy or convenient, but it is sad when a woman who helped launch the WPS raises her hand and says they couldn't get former soccer players to come out and support the league. I don't think they realize what they're missing. It is a chance for nostalgia and also to fantasize about it being YOU out on the field - something more difficult to do when all the players are men."

(See @anngaff on Twitter for more from Ann)