Samford looks at how to make women’s sports equal

Published: Dec. 8, 2022 at 8:01 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - What would it take to make pay in women’s sports close enough to men’s sports that women, like WNBA superstar Brittney Griner, don’t feel compelled to travel out the country to make money?

Darin White, who runs the Center for Sports Analytics at Samford University, says it’s important to maximize the four revenue streams for sports: ticket sales, sponsorships, licensed merchandise and media rights. And while all are important, White says the last of those is key.

“Media rights is the largest revenue stream for just about any sports organization out there. And so...the more people that we can generate to be interested in actually watching, the more they are gonna buy licensed merchandise, the more they’re gonna want to go to the games, right?”

But White says there are hurdles to building that viewership. Samford and sports marketing group Tigris in Denver studied the problem and published their findings in a report called “Why Aren’t You Watching.”

Among their findings is that it’s difficult to follow a women’s sports team consistently enough on TV to build a bond.

“There have been all sorts of studies that have looked at that, but the percentage of women’s sports, if you take the total amount of sport content shown on, like ESPN, for example, in primetime, the percentage of that that’s actually dedicated to women’s sports is in the single digits” says White.

White says people who took part in the study also complained that the quality of women’s broadcasts did not match that of men’s contests. White says their study suggests that on top of upgrading broadcasts, media carrying the games invest in better promoting players and creating connection with fans among other things.

“We love to watch the Iron Bowl in Birmingham because we know that matters, right? That game matters to us, right? But if you see an ad on TV for two WNBA teams to play each other, if you have no idea why that game matters, you’re probably not gonna tune in,” said White.

You can read the full study here:

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