Women’s Sports Inventory in Demand – Where’s the Supply?

Passion for the Game – The Woman’s Pro Sports Audience in Canada – Rahul Sethi, Vivdata

At this week’s Community Uninterrupted Webinar, we got a unique chance to delve into the mystery of why women’s pro sports are lagging behind in exposure compared to men in Canada. Rahul Sethi, Director of Insights at Vividata kicked off an insightful piece of research with a powerful uncaptioned image comparison between Lebron James and Sue Bird citing the vast gap in recognition between two incredibly accomplished athletes.

According to Vividata’s reporting, despite a growing demand to watch women’s sports in this country, it’s simply hard to come by. While 76% of Canadian adults agree that women’s sports are on the rise, the latter receives a 50% deficit in audiences compared to their counterparts. Furthermore, 55% of Canadians say they would follow women’s sports more if only it received better media coverage.

In an environment that is ripe for paying close attention to diversity and inclusion in media, the stark data points shared this week should give marketers and media buyers some pause for consideration. In a follow up discussion with Sethi, there was a clear opportunity identified for brands to demand more inventory to support the gender divide in sports.

Following are only a few of the data points shared throughout the presentation:

  • 55% said they would follow more if it was covered better in media
  • Diverse audience opportunity – there is no real difference between men and women who would watch women’s sports – equal distribution between gender, ethnicity, kids-no-kids
  • Hockey is followed by 59% of Canadian adults through NHL coverage vs. only 32% of reach for the WHL – all attributed to less to coverage as only finals and main events are picked up
  • LPGA was cited as a great case study for increased coverage leading to great following with fans spending an average of 5 hrs and 26 minutes following the sport when in season
  • 80% agree that women in sports are real role models providing brands with an authentic source of endorsable, sought after sponsorships
  • 40% of women’s pro sports league fans are likely to notice sponsors and 16% are likely to buy a sponsor’s product or service

Sethi closed with a powerful note on demand. The study indicated that Canadians want a level playing field. A significant, 71% say women and men’s sports should get equal attention.

Perhaps one of the biggest take-aways of the presentation was the opportunity to call out to advertisers to ask for inventory. Women’s equality in sports provide real opportunities to put dollars against shifting values and commitments towards bridging the gender divide. IAB Canada looks forward to exploring this further with a panel in the coming weeks that will discuss the path to change for womens’ sports in Canada.