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Women’s sports gets down to business 2021

Women’s sports gets down to business: On track for rising monetization

TMT Predictions 2021

Slowly but surely, the gender gap in men’s and women’s sports revenue is beginning to close. But the entire sports industry should invest in creating more opportunities for women’s sports if it is to prove its commercial worth.

Deloitte’s TMT Predictions reports have historically required a base level of a billion dollars in revenue before an emerging industry would be considered for inclusion. On this basis, the global women’s sports industry (excluding mixed events),1 measured by the aggregate of TV rights, sponsorship, and matchday (live-event) revenues, is unlikely to qualify in 2021.

TV rights and sponsorship deals for most women’s sports, where they exist, are worth at most millions of dollars, with the majority below this value. In 2021, we predict women’s sports revenues 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 US$481 billion, an increase of 45% over 2011.2

But in spite of that, we are including this topic, as we believe we should, because we predict that women’s sports will grow to be worth a great deal more than a billion dollars in the years ahead. Its ability to generate substantial TV audiences, deliver value to sponsors, and draw tens of thousands of fans per event has been demonstrated on multiple occasions over the past decade. The fan interest is there: A recent multicountry study found that 66% of people were interested in at least one women’s sport, and among sports fans (of whom 49% are female), that figure rises to 84%.3 And the COVID-19 pandemic has catalyzed fundamental reappraisals of many aspects of society, one of which is how women’s sports should be perceived, promoted, and commercialized.

In short, women’s sports is ripe for greater monetization—if certain key elements fall into place. The challenge in 2021 and beyond will be for women’s sports to pull in substantial TV and stadium (as permitted) audiences consistently across multiple sports. Then, the value to sponsors will be self-evident, which in turn should raise marketing spend and awareness. But for this to happen, the entire sports industry—spanning federations, leagues, teams, sponsors, and regulators—needs to invest on a sustained basis in creating more opportunities for women’s sports to prove its commercial worth.

Women’s sports gets down to business

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