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Study: Women’s sport sponsorships increase 20% in 2022

Finance, apparel and accessories, and media brands most active, according to SponsorUnited report.

14 October 2022 Ed Dixon

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  • LPGA beats out WTA and NWSL with most deals
  • 3,500 brands bought 5,650 sponsorships or media across 14 pro women’s leagues and NIL athletes

Sponsorship deals across women’s sport have increased 20 per cent year-over-year (YoY) in 2022, according to a study by sponsorship data and advertising services firm SponsorUnited.

The 2022 Women In Sports Report, which analysed partnerships for collegiate and professional sports across teams and individual athletes, found that finance brands – already the most active sponsorship category among women’s sport – increased their sponsorship activity by 30 per cent YoY.

Completing the top three were apparel and accessories, and media.

SponsorUnited added that 3,500 brands bought a total of 5,650 sponsorships or media across 14 professional women’s leagues and collegiate name, image and likeness (NIL) athletes.

The study also revealed that 1,110 brands bought a total of 2,185 sponsorships or media with individual professional and college female athletes. 

Golf outnumbered other women’s sports for brand deals. According to the report, the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) inked 940 brand deals in 2022, resulting in a YoY 30 per cent increase in deals and an 18 per cent rise in new brand partnerships. Its notable sponsors include Coca-Cola, Rolex and Epson.

The LPGA also held a 17-deal lead over the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), which has 923 deals in 2022, followed by the National Women’s Soccer League’s (NWSL) 496 deals. 

Nike was ranked as the number one sponsor for both professional and collegiate sports, boasting partnerships with the likes of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), the NWSL, the Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL), netball and the LPGA, as well as with more than 60 individual athletes.

Nike also sponsors five collegiate athletes and has partnerships with 68 colleges. The US sportswear giant’s great rival Adidas was placed second in the report.

“While women’s sports have always faced a variety of disparities in the industry, their ability to win over audiences and drive an exceptionally high level of engagement for brands is undeniable,” said Bob Lynch, chief executive and founder of SponsorUnited.

“In recent years, attendance, viewership and social engagement for women’s sports and athletes has spiked, leading to long-overdue financial backing through investments and sponsorships that are visibly paying off and should only continue to accelerate.”

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