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Why growth of women’s sports coverage and advertiser interest is bogged down by small steps forward

Digiday 08 Apr 2021 04:01
April 8, 2021 by Sara Guaglione

Coverage of women’s sports has not historically attracted the same level of advertisers’ interest or media coverage as men’s sports. Inhibitors include lagging efforts by publishers in this space, a dominance of men in sports media and a struggle to convince advertisers of the value of aligning with content beyond big sports events. But progress is being made, albeit slowly.

Two years after launching its HighlightHER vertical to spotlight girls and women in sports, Bleacher Report is now pitching the property to advertisers. Meanwhile, legacy publishers like the Los Angeles Times are investing more resources into women’s sports. And advertisers are starting to catch on to what is shaping up to be an area of opportunity for brands.

The struggle for women’s sports coverage to inspire more investment from publishers and advertisers is a chicken-or-egg construct: Publishers blame advertisers for not putting more money into women’s sports content, while advertisers say publishers aren’t producing enough content to advertise against.

Despite the increasing popularity of women’s sports, a revenue disparity persists. Deloitte has said it expects TV rights and sponsorship revenue for women’s sports to hit over $1 billion globally at some point, but it has not put a timeline on that projection. In fact, the company declared in its report that women’s sports revenue in 2021 “will be well under a billion dollars — a fraction of the global value of all sports (men’s, women’s, and mixed), which in 2018 reached $481 billion, an increase of 45% over 2011.”

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ESPN DigitalKristi WagnerLA TimesLauren ReynoldsMindshare
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