Where are the sponsorships for women?

It is no secret that women’s sports rate well behind men’s sports when it comes to level of coverage and investment. It is a hot topic in the world of sports sponsorship and one of the themes discussed at the recently held SPIA Asia – Asia’s Sports Industry Awards & Conference.

Little current data exist detailing just how big the difference is. One report from between 2011 and 2013 showed that during this period, women’s sports sponsorship accounted for just 0.4 percent of all sports sponsorship. According to Marketing Week, global sports sponsorships was worth US$106.8 billion over those three years, meaning just over US$427 million was spent on women’s sports. In 2018, for the first time since 2010, no women made Forbes’ list of the world’s highest paid athletes. The lack of sponsorships means a lot of businesses are missing out on reaching valuable new audiences and deepening their relationships with exciting ones.

New data suggests that viewership and interest in women’s sports are on the rise. In the UK, the SSE Women’s FA Cup Final in May 2018 at Wembley Stadium attracted a record 45,423 people, more than 10,000 more fans than attended the final in 2017. Furthermore, the 5,000 tickets allocated for the qualification game for the upcoming Women’s Football World Cup in France in 2019 between England and Wales sold out in less than 24 hours.

According to Forbes, broadcaster Sky reported a peak audience of 1.1 million for the Women’s World Cup cricket final, more than men’s Premier League matches draw on average.

Furthermore, according to an analysis by the UK’s Women’s Sports Trust (WST), Nielson Sports and England Hockey, 59 percent of the UK population are interested in at least one women’s sport. Twenty-one percent of the UK are interested in women’s football, 16 percent in women’s rugby and 16 percent in women’s cricket. Awareness is also building, as 64 percent of the UK reported knowing about the Women’s Football World Cup, while 42 percent were aware of the Women’s Rugby World Cup.

If the data doesn’t support the argument for sponsoring women’s sports, there are other things to take into consideration. According to Sam Grimley, commercial director of GumGun, a company that tracks the value of sports sponsorship based on online and broadcast exposure, a lower price point should attract brands. “For one, you have that lower price point. So you have brands who maybe would never be able to dream of getting in to sponsor a men's Premier League football team, but they may have the right budget to be able to sponsor the front of the shirt of the women's team of that Premier League football club,” he told Forbes.

Grimley also points to a different target audience. “There might be a cosmetic brand who would never dream of sponsoring a men’s rugby union team because it's not really an audience they want to get to. But there are opportunities in women's sport where they can reach their audience and start to have conversations.”

One brand that has successfully tapped into women’s sport sponsorship is Stanley Black & Decker, a tools company that earlier this year announced Stanley as an official partner of FC Barcelona’s women’s team, FC Barcelona Femini. Through their ‘Performance in Action’ campaign, which featured interviews with key FC Barcelona Femini players talk about the obstacles and stereotypes they have met on their road to the top of women’s football, Stanley Black & Decker was able to reach new audiences and reinforce the position of both FC Barcelona and Stanley Black & Decker as organisations sensitive to social values such as gender equality and women empowerment.

Paul Poole (South East Asia) Co., Ltd. is an independent marketing consultancy based in Bangkok, Thailand specialising in commercial sponsorship and partnership marketing, working with both rights holders and brands - acting as a catalyst by bringing them together and maximising the relationship.

We have packaged, sold and managed sponsorship and partnership opportunities for a wide range of rights holders and worked with many of the world’s leading brands to source and engage the right sponsorships and partnerships for them to maximise.

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