Having read the recent articles from our most successful Paralympian ever, Baroness Grey-Thompson, I was saddened with how little revenue is generated through sponsorship in women’s sport in the UK. With some very successful elite teams based in the United Kingdom including football, hockey, and netball, I wrongly assumed this would also draw large sponsorship funding to the sport and players.
Perhaps I have been tainted. I have always gone out with women who play sport and whether it’s been pretending to understand the rules of netball or be enthralled with a sublime left foot penalty, female sport has been nearly as big a part of my life as their male counterparts.
So why is it that the rate of interest has gone up but sponsorship hasn’t? Between January 2010 and August 2011 sponsorship of women’s elite sport in the UK contributed just 0.5% of the total market. Shocked? If not, you should be when you compare it to the 61.1% for men’s sport. It is clearly time for a change.
A contributing factor for the significant difference in sponsorship investment is the amount of media coverage that women’s sport receives. As audience awareness is a key benefit for sponsorship rights, this decreased media attention in women’s sport significantly affects the total sponsorship able to be retained.
However, it is possible that this is changing around – if even ever so slowly. On a recent trip to Marrakesh, I was elated to be able to watch the women’s World Cup quarter final live! (albeit via the red button). Also to note that this was due to an unprecendented 700,000 people who had watched England’s final group game.
When looking at the situation from a different angle, it becomes apparent that women’s sport is offering the rare opportunity for brands to associate with sporting athletes, teams and associations without having to compete with a plethora of additional sponsors and advertisers.
These opportunities also come at a heavily discounted price in comparison to the fees generally associated with sports sponsorship. With the London 2012 Olympics on the horizon, there has never been a better time to get involved with this relatively untapped marketing resource.
It seems to me that as long as the general public continue to be attracted to women’s sport in greater numbers, sponsors would be foolish to miss out on an ever growing opportunity as the cost of investment is sure to grow!