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Women’s Sport Week

Female athletes are finally being given an opportunity to thrive, but women’s sport still has some way to go on its commercial journey. As governing bodies, leagues, broadcasters and brands start to increase their commitments, SportsPro hears from some of those organisations and executives looking to make up for lost time.

18 July 2022 SportsPro

Over the coming days SportsPro and co-host Two Circles will be presenting a week of in-depth features, exclusive interviews, opinion pieces and podcasts dedicated to women’s sport.

Signs of the rise of women’s sport are everywhere, but its ongoing commercialisation remains fraught with lingering challenges and systemic biases. Still, after decades fighting against gender-based discrimination, female athletes are finally being given an opportunity to thrive.

Media rights values are increasing. Fees attached to sponsorship deals are on the rise. Events are getting bigger and the audience is growing. According to research from Two Circles and the Women’s Sport Trust, the women’s sport industry in the UK alone is forecast to mature at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12 per cent in the coming years to reach UK£1 billion in annual revenue by 2030.

That is just a snapshot of the potential that exists as investors finally wake up to the sports industry’s next great growth opportunity.

This week, we’ll hear from some of the leading executives and organisations shaping the future of women’s sport, including National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) commissioner Jessica Berman, US Ski & Snowboard chief executive Sophie Goldschmidt and US Soccer president Cindy Parlow Cone, in addition to senior figures at the Premier Hockey Federation (PHF), the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and the Professional Triathletes Organisation (PTO).

We’ll go deep into issues like gender pay disparity, underrepresentation in the media and female empowerment, the role of technology in shaping the sporting experience for women, and how changes in boardroom leadership and organisational culture are driving commercial opportunities and progress from the top down.

Check back here for new releases throughout the week and sign up to the SportsPro Daily newsletter to have all of the content delivered directly to your inbox.

Part one: Where does sport stand on equal pay?

Women’s sport is on the rise but many female athletes still earn considerably less than their male counterparts. As progress starts to be felt, SportsPro speaks to executives at organisations across the industry to understand what further steps need to be taken to narrow the pay gap.

Part two: PHF commissioner Reagan Carey talks equality, investment and cutting through the noise

Reagan Carey is the new leader at the helm of the Premier Hockey Federation, yet her ice hockey career has been marked by international success over two decades. Now, as commissioner of a league undergoing significant transformation, the American former player wants to take the women’s professional game to the next level.

Part three: How the ECB and R&A plan to take their women’s events to new heights

Beth Barrett-Wild, head of The Hundred women’s competition and female engagement at the ECB, and Malcolm Booth, The R&A’s director of sales and marketing, explain how backing elite competitions and supporting new initiatives form part of their plans for women’s cricket and golf.

Part four: Opinion | Why 2022 can create a legacy of investment for women’s sports

This year will be the biggest ever for women’s sport globally but, as Two Circles strategy lead Clare Vigers explains, the sports industry is only scratching the surface of what’s possible.

Part five: How greater equality in sports technology can deliver a revolution in women’s sport

SportsPro speaks to executives across the board to find out how technology can transform women’s sport, why greater representation is needed in a male-dominated field, and why female-led startups can change the whole industry.

Part six: StreamTime | Why women’s sport is the next big opportunity

Minal Modha, consumer research lead at Ampere Analysis, joins the StreamTime Podcast to discuss the growth of women’s sport and the role broadcasters and brands have to play in driving it forward.

Part seven: IWG co-chair Annamarie Phelps on advancing gender equality in sport

With the UK set to take over as host of the International Working Group on Women & Sport, IWG co-chair Annamarie Phelps tells SportsPro what’s in store.

Part eight: Podcast | Women’s Sport Week special with Two Circles’ Annie Panter

Annie Panter, MD of ventures at Two Circles, joins the SportsPro Podcast to discuss the evolution of women’s sport and the commercial strategies stakeholders should adopt to ensure the momentum continues.

Part nine: Opinion | How social media data drives investor confidence for women in sport

Women’s sports are said to be growing at over double the rate of men’s sports on social media. Mandy Savage, content marketing manager at Kore Software, delves into the data to explain why female athletes are fast becoming a sound investment.

Part ten: NWSL commissioner Jessica Berman on rebuilding trust and leading through dialogue

Last year the National Women’s Soccer League was left reeling by an abuse scandal that drove a wedge between the competition and its players union. For Jessica Berman, the league’s new commissioner, the process of rebuilding bridges is already underway.

Part 11: Three reasons why unbundling women’s sponsorship works for Uefa, World Rugby and Fifa

With the volume of deals on the rise, SportsPro looks at the benefits of sports bodies packaging their women’s sponsorship rights separately from the men’s.

More of SportsPro’s women’s sport coverage

Want more women’s sport-related content? See below for a selection of our coverage this year:

Leaders from the NHL, NBA, DAZN, IndyCar and PTO talk gender equality, improving access and female trailblazers

SportsPro canvassed the opinions of female executives from across the industry to hear about the challenges facing women in sports business today, which organisations are leading the way in gender equality, and where there is still work to be done.

How Women’s Euro 2022 is setting a new benchmark for engagement and commercial activity

The ongoing Uefa Women’s European Championship is expected to be a record-breaking tournament. With the action well underway, SportsPro caught up with some of those involved to hear more about how the event came together.

Why women’s sport is the real opportunity for broadcasters and sponsors

Ampere Analysis’ consumer research lead Minal Modha delves into the company’s data to illustrate why making women’s sport competitions more accessible will be crucial to future growth and monetisation.

US Soccer president Cindy Parlow Cone on equal pay, the 2026 World Cup and being a team player

After securing a landmark equal pay deal and being reelected for a four-year term, the US Soccer president tells SportsPro how a self-described “quiet, reserved kid” is restoring trust in the federation as it builds towards a pivotal moment for the sport in America.

“We’re in a different generation”: Taylor-Serrano and the search for women’s boxing’s watershed moment

Katie Taylor and Amanda Serrano made history when they headlined Madison Square Garden on 30th April. With more promoters and broadcasters backing female fighters, Matchroom Boxing chief executive Frank Smith and DAZN executive vice president Joe Markowski believe the time is right to take the sport to new heights.

WNBA 2022 commercial guide: Every franchise, every sponsor, all the major TV deals

SportsPro takes a closer look at the commercial picture in North America’s premier women’s basketball competition.

To find out more about SportsPro’s future themed weeks, click here.

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