Today WSFF have launched their latest figures of the commercial investment and media profile of women’s sport. It was time for a renewed set of stats as the last ones came were produced before London 2012 (where women won 24 of Team GB’s 65 medals and exactly half of the Paralympic medals), before the Athletic World Championships (where Christine Ohuruogu’s 400m gold medal race had most of Britain sat on the edge of their seats) and before a whole host of female athletes pushed themselves to the limit to represent their country, bring home world titles and generally be awesome.
BLT (Before London Twenty Twelve) was a dark time for women’s sport, however when millions of people actively tuned into the Games to watch golden girls such as Jess Ennis compete and didn’t spontaneously vomit, combust or burn their televisions at the presence of a female athlete on their screen it sparked an increased awareness and interest in women’s sport. Since then both print media and some of the biggest sports broadcast corporations have promised and delivered heightened coverage of women’s sport, from BT’s coverage of the WSL this year to Sky Sport’s commitment to the Women’s Ashes and ZEO Netball League to name a few. So as you can tell, it was time for new stats to show that the share of media coverage for women’s sport is no longer at the dismal 5% found in 2011 (or BLT).
In good news, the new percentage is higher. In bad news it is only higher BY 2%. Yes ladies and gentlemen, despite the pledges and support of the media, women’s sport only makes up for 7% of the total sports coverage hitting our screens. Add to that the fact that the value of reported sponsorship deals for women’s sport has actually decreased from only accounting for 0.5% to a mere 0.4% of the overall market and you can’t help feeling there’s slight cause for concern.
In 2013 the most valuable women’s sport sponsorship deal in the UK was Continental Tyre’s 5 year backing of the FA WSL with a value of £450,000 (estimate), whilst Laura Robson was the benefactor of the highest priced, longest sponsorship deal for an individual thanks to Virgin Active’s 2 year deal of est. £195,000. Compare this to the men’s if you will. For a 5 year sponsorship of The Football League, Sky Bet gave £27,500,000, over 60 times the WSL’s deal with Continental. Rory McIlroy meanwhile notched up an impressive £150,000,000 for a 10 year sponsorship with Nike, which works out about £30,000,000 every two years, about 150 times more than Robson’s deal. It would also be really interesting to see if there’s a variation between McIlroy and Jensen Button’s sponsorship deals with Santander in comparison to their partner-in-cringey-advert-crime Jess Ennis who received a £195,000 deal for her part.
As for the media, WSFF’s stats show that in October 2013, the supposedly glorious post Olympics time, women’s sport was granted 10% of TV sports coverage, made up 2% of the coverage in national newspapers, took up 5% of the radio sports broadcasts and was given 4% of the sports coverage from online channels. Not only is this a smack in the teeth for all the sports women who train day in, day out to become world class gaining recognition for their efforts, but also leaves a huge gap in the market for all those young women looking for an alternative to the Made in Towie Shore girls that dominate our media. It’s widely agreed that sportswomen are incredibly positive role models, however how will the millions of girls in the UK see that there’s an alternative if it remains pretty much invisible?
These latest stats are a wake up call to the dire picture of women’s sport currently in our media despite the success of our female athletes. On the back of this WSFF are launching their ‘Say Yes to Success’ campaign to build up excitement, interest and investment around the women’s sporting calendar. Here’s hoping that the next set of statistics will make much more pleasant reading…