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Women's sport represents untapped sponsorship opportunity in SA

New Nielsen report reveals 84% of fans in South Africa are interested in both men's and women's sport.

One of the most exciting trends in sports globally is the growth and popularity of women’s sports – revealing a clear opportunity for South African rights-holders and sponsors to build their brand/profile driven by this growing interest.

Nielsen’s latest report, titled ‘Women’s Sport’, conducted studies into women’s sports across eight major global sports markets. In its close-up on South Africa, Nielsen reveals that 51% of sports fans in South Africa watching both men’s and women’s sport are male – debunking the perception that only women are interested in women’s sport. In addition, nearly half the respondents say that they are much more likely to consider and/or purchase a brand that supports women's sport over a competitor brand – if the price and offering were similar.

The report outlines the changing and challenging South African media landscape, and the key drivers and trends that are impacting the region. It highlights specific audience segments engaging with women’s sports in South Africa, fan attitudes toward sponsors that associate themselves with women’s sports and identifies unique sponsorship opportunities for brands.

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“Women’s sport is especially relevant for South African brands as the men’s sport sponsorship landscape has become cluttered, encompassing a large number of sponsors and brands – which require significant budgets in order to stand-out,” said Annalie Watt, Nielsen Sports head of consulting in Africa. “Sponsorship of the National Women’s Football team has led the way in 2019, showing that dedicated sponsorship and activation of wholly women’s sporting content can have a major impact for brands in South Africa.”

Access is key

Overall, the Nielsen Women’s Sport report’s key take-outs reveal the extent of the as yet untapped market for rights-holders and brands to engage and build the profile of women’s sports in SA. Globally, women’s sports are seen as more progressive, less money-driven, more family-oriented and ‘cleaner’ than men’s sports. Wider societal issues around diversity and equality are also playing into women’s sports investment decisions.

This puts a spotlight on the important role rights-holders, sponsors and the media have in creating platforms for women’s sport to thrive – considering 46% of South Africans regard women’s sports as competitive, while 35% say it is skilled and 32% view it as being of high quality.

The global value of women’s sports sponsorship deals increased by 37%; with a 49% increase in monetary size of all deals between 2013 and 2017. Global statistics also showed the 2018 Women’s FA Cup Final saw a 1.6 million audience on free-to-air compared to a 0.5 million audience at the 2017 Women’s Cricket World Cup Final – which aired exclusively on Sky Sports pay TV. The potential is therefore clear, especially, when considering that 73% of South Africans surveyed in the Nielsen report say they would watch more women’s sport if they had access via free-to-air television channels.

Lack of exposure

Lack of opportunity to view women’s sport is cited as a barrier to pursuing women’s sports, with 27% of South African men and women revealing they don’t know much about women’s sport because it is rarely covered. Watt commented: “The reality is South African audiences have not been exposed to quality women’s sport yet. We see a need for greater access to women’s sport to stimulate and drive local consumer interest levels to such a point that we can tear down the walls between men’s and women’s sports and just talk about sports. That’s the end game.”

Looking at the sponsorship opportunities, Watt says: “Brand involvement requires new strategies that are more inclusive, which helps brands to carve their own space by supporting non-traditional sporting events and also allows them to overcome the clutter that exists in traditional sport sponsorships.”

We see there’s a real appetite for women’s sports in SA across both men and women. However, in order to continue to grow women’s sports in the region, the game must become more mainstream with free-to-air underscoring the need for accessibility. Also, there’s a need to drive greater participation in women’s sport at a school level and cultivating a culture for women’s sport and inspiring youth at a very young age.

It seems clear that women’s sport presents brands with new opportunities to fully engage with all aspects of a sport and play an integral part in sports development from the ground up, building excellent brand loyalty and market share along the way.

About Nielsen

Nielsen Holdings plc (NYSE: NLSN) is a global measurement and data analytics company that provides the most complete and trusted view available of consumers and markets worldwide. Nielsen is divided into two business units. Nielsen Global Media, the arbiter of truth for media markets, provides media and advertising industries with unbiased and reliable metrics that create a shared understanding of the industry required for markets to function. Nielsen Global Connect provides consumer packaged goods manufacturers and retailers with accurate, actionable information and insights and a complete picture of the complex and changing marketplace that companies need to innovate and grow.

Our approach marries proprietary Nielsen data with other data sources to help clients around the world understand what’s happening now, what’s happening next and how to best act on this knowledge.

An S&P 500 company, Nielsen has operations in over 100 countries, covering more than 90% of the world’s population. For more information, visit www.nielsen.com


NielsenNielsen knows people, Nielsen knows Africa. No-one offers a more complete understanding, worldwide, of what consumers watch and buy. We offer the scale to give you world view - as well as a wealth of local and regional knowledge and expertise.
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