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Girls aloud: women’s sport booms
- Through partnering with the right brands, generating innovative and interesting content, and collaborating with non-sporting celebrities, women’s sports teams can build their own profiles and generate a large fan following.
- There is a clear opportunity for sports and brands to gain exposure and to influence fans on social media.
Jessy Tremouliere's last-minute score for France inflicted England’s Red Roses’ first loss in rugby union’s Women’s Six Nations tournament this year. The narrowest of results (18-17) paved the way for France to lift the Grand Slam title the following week, but the match was notable for another reason: the crowd of 17,440 at the
That weekend also saw Harlequins beat Richmond 14-12 in the Tyrells Premier 15s attended by 4,542 fans at the Twickenham Stoop in London, which was a British women’s club rugby record attendance and a 203-
Rugby union’s recent records in attendance are indicative of wider trends: women’s sport has been growing in popularity in recent years, with increasing attendances, TV audiences and social media following. It’s a similar picture for women’s football: the 2015 Fifa World Cup in Canada saw global viewing figures grow by 40
Women’s cricket has also flourished: the 2017 World Cup saw a 300-
The growing television audiences are critical, and particularly impressive when considering the multitude of other entertainment distractions and on-demand content available to consumers, which are putting audience figures under pressure for sports and TV programming more generally.
Climbing the social ladder
The growth in profile and following of women’s sport via traditional viewing is also translating onto social media platforms. Social media is becoming an increasingly important tool for sports to generate interest in their game.
People enjoy being part of a conversation and social networks make it easier for fans to engage with live
Alex Morgan, the US soccer captain, is leading the way with 5.1 million Instagram followers, demonstrating the impact that creating interesting and regular social media content both on and off the field of play can have on an athlete’s following.
Social media is becoming increasingly important for sports teams and brands. Among 18-to-34-year-olds, media consumption on mobile devices surpassed TV for the first time in 2016, and adults are watching video on their smartphones five times more than they did in 2012. Crucially, the ubiquity of smartphone adoption has enabled social media platforms to deliver greater media value to sponsors
There is a clear opportunity for sports and brands to gain exposure and to influence fans on social media. Women’s sports rights-holders should capitalise on the opportunity by developing and implementing a strategy for proactive social media marketing in order to maximise commercial impact and fan engagement. But what are some of the social media strategies that can be adopted by women’s sport?
One way is for rights holders to create their own content and distribute it through their own social media channels, thereby providing an opportunity for women’s sports teams and competitions to communicate directly with their fans and drive higher levels of fan engagement through creating their own exciting content. Social media can then be used by rights holders to build stories about their athletes and provide virtual ‘behind-the-scenes’ access that creates a deeper connection between the fan and their team, its players and the wider brand.
Furthermore, rights-holders can use social media to instantly communicate with fans by, for example, producing highlight clips of a game moments after the action has taken place. Once again, this is an excellent way to drive fan engagement, in particular to an impatient younger audience.
Of course, it is not just rights-holders that can generate social media interest. The athletes themselves can often command a more powerful influence whilst using their social channels, in order to represent their team’s or sport’s wider brand. The unpolished authenticity of a player’s social media is attractive to fans and the social platforms create a sense of accessibility and a direct communications channel between the athlete and the fan.
Partnerships and promotion
To gain significant traction women’s sports rights-holders
For example, before Euro 2017, a video featuring the group Little Mix, their hit single ‘Salute’ and the England women’s team was used to generate interest and drum up fan engagement. A campaign that includes the brand, female
This could be an attractive proposition for prospective commercial partners such as sports apparel brands targeting the valuable female consumer and buyer segment of the market. It could also be attractive for brands that might have historically struggled to market directly to female consumers, including car companies, despite research showing that women typically have the deciding say for 80
However, it is vital that women’s sports rights-holders have a commercial strategy in place to assist them in partnering with the most appropriate brands which also share their values. Coupled with a sponsorship activation strategy that builds both the profile of and sentiment towards the sponsor’s brand, this will enable the value of the partnership to both parties to be maximised. Any brand that is considering entering the women’s
The growth of television audiences and live attendances in recent years signals a greater interest in women’s sport. Combined with the rising media value that can be generated through social media channels, there is
About the Sports Business Group at Deloitte
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