Breaking the glass ceiling together
You know what I love most about the 3rd and 3 Podcast? Aside from streaming live every Wednesday night at 8pm with my kick ass co-hosts Jason Feirman and Damian Adams the 3rd & 3 Podcast provides all three of us with a platform. A platform that sometimes we take seriously and sometimes we don’t. A platform we sometimes take for granted and other times we are grateful for. A platform that is sometimes ignored depending on how busy our lives get. But the reality is that having a platform is a powerful thing. Sure, sometimes it can feel like we are speaking into the abyss, but the power of a platform should not be taken lightly. As we have seen over the past few years, the misuse of a platform can create complete and utter chaos.
Using our platform for awareness and positivity is something I know my co-hosts and I feel so strongly about. We hope to bring our listeners, viewers, readers and fans informative content that makes you think, laugh, cry, disagree with us or just straight up entertain you. If we can make even 5 min of your day a little better than we have done our jobs.
That said, I often use this platform to air my grievances about the New York Giants and their complete disfunction. And who could blame me really? Have you seen the product they put on the field? But I am doing myself and everyone else a disservice by only talking about football. A couple months back I mentioned a stat on the podcast about Women’s sports and the lack of media coverage it receives, and it has bothered me every day since.
Did you know that Women’s sports are sorely lacking in media coverage? In fact, Women’s sports only receive 4% of all sports media coverage despite females making up 44% of all sports participation. In addition, just 7% of the 30 billion dollars spent globally on sponsorships is directed to Women's sports. As if those stats weren't woeful enough let’s add to it.
In early 2021 Deloitte predicted that total revenues across women’s sports would amount to under a billion dollars, which is a fraction of the global value of all sports. In Forbes 2021 List of highest paid sportspeople there are only two women who cracked the top 50 list. Naomi Osaka at #12 and Serena Williams at #28. What about after the top 50? Forget it. According to Sportico, no other women would have even cracked the top 1000 overall. Ladies and Gentlemen, we have some work to do.
Are Women’s Sports Ahead of the Curve?
They just might be. While Men’s sports have a clear playbook and rely heavily on broadcast revenue, there really isn’t much in terms of a blueprint for Women's sports. What’s the saying? Necessity is the mother of invention? Well, leave it to the ladies to find a way to make it work. With so much inequity in Women's sports there is no choice but to pivot and that’s exactly what they are doing.
The commercial appetite is there and the ladies are doing it differently than their male counterparts. In terms of commercial marketing Women's sports often partner with sponsors who gear their marketing package towards inclusivity, family and community impact rather than media exposure. A quick look at Women's sports teams and their sponsorship deals absolutely confirms that Women's sports are cause and purpose driven.
Case in point: The WNBA's Phoenix Mercury announced a deal with Ballys for $66 million dollars which is the largest official team sponsorship in the history of Women's sports. In addition the NWSL Angel City FC backed by Abby Wambach and Mia Hamm (to be clear I suck at soccer but Mia Hamm made me want to at least give it shot) have fulfilled their three sponsorships in which a portion of the money they receive from their partners gets reallocated to local causes like DoorDash for example has committed to donating $5 for every order placed on it's platform to restaurants in the LA area that are owned by women. And there are countless more sponsorships like this throughout Women's sports.
Not only are Women's sports sponsorship deals blazing a different path so is their approach to getting media attention.
Enter the Content Queens
It’s a digital world and you’re addicted to it. How else do you consume, well anything really? Print media? TV? Sure, for some things but there has been a distinct shift away from it for some time now. Digital content allows anyone and yes, I mean anyone to have a platform. Which can be good or bad as I alluded to at the beginning of this article. Digital content combined with social media provides a fantastic opportunity for Women's sports and women in sports to connect with their audience, grow their audience and capitalize on the growing interest in their sport. It’s also a great way for female athletes to get their stories out that mainstream sports media wouldn’t cover. And let me just say, that is one the best things about a digital sports platform, covering stories and topics that mainstream media won’t.
Of course, that doesn’t mean digital is the savior for Women's sports either. No, traditional media and broadcast companies have a reach of influence far and wide. While digital allows for the personalization of audience interaction, traditional media allows for visibility on the grandest stage. But a hybrid model between digital content distribution and traditional media methods are exactly what the WNBA (women's national basketball association) and NWSL (national women's soccer league) are doing and it’s paying off greatly for them. During the pandemic while almost every major male sport was struggling to retain viewers, the WNBA and NWSL saw their audience and rating increase with viewership up over 51% over the 2020 season thanks to more media exposure and TV Broadcast along with Amazon and Twitch streaming deals. It is truly amazing what something as simple as accessibility can do.
The Female Fan
So, where does that leave sports like the NFL and the NBA? Well, they've got some work to do but lets look at the NFL. It seems they have only recently started marketing to their female fans which is surprising because female fans now make up 47% of the fan base. According to the league that's 88 million fans. That's a lot of fans who have been ignored for far too long. American football is also the closest ratio of female to male fans in all sports. A lot of this runs deeper than just one blog post but it's also the perception of the "female football fan" tell any man you are a fan of football and I guarantee you at some point in their lives a female football fan was asked any variation of the following questions:
Does your husband/boyfriend make you watch the game?
Are you even really a fan?
Do you want me to explain the rules to you?
Can you even name a player on the team?
Do you even pay attention to the game?
You only watch because of the cute guys/uniforms/ other ridiculous reason, right?
And the list just goes on and on and on as if you aren’t a real fan if you can’t name the starting offensive line for the Jacksonville Jaguars off the top of your head (spoiler alert – no one can) it’s as if we must prove ourselves or pass some test to be deemed a “real fan.”
But it doesn't stop there. No, sports and media organizations continue to miss the mark when marketing to the female fan. Throw in the sponsors and Ad companies too for that matter. I think 2020 was the first time we saw Olay run an Ad during the Superbowl. I am no Ad expert but I would imagine that marketing to 47% of your fan base would prove to be profitable on some level.
The NFL is taking baby steps which is great because it's progress and progress moves us all forward.
Breaking the Glass Ceiling
Though I think we can all agree that Women's sports has a long way to go I would be remiss not to take moment to acknowledge how far women have come in the sports industry. It is a tough road, but I hope these women know that we are all rooting for them, and we appreciate the roads they have paved and continue to pave for the rest of us.
From coaches to skills position coaches, to athletes, to mentors, to high level executives, to radio and tv talent, to all the assistants who make the world go round to podcast hosts to game officials to digital media content creators and all the women in between we thank you for showing us everyday that with enough fight, grit and determination change is possible.
Change is possible. Progress is possible. Breaking the glass ceiling is possible. These women have shown us that the belief in yourself and the support of the people around you make all the difference in the world. We applaud you ladies for your hard work and for being a source of inspiration for the rest of us.
It's A Team Effort
Speaking of effort, I knew this post could very easily veer into college essay territory, so I made my best effort not to go there and hopefully the stat’s provided were enough to highlight that inequity in sports is a real issue but also that it takes commitment from all of us to create change. I am aware enough to admit that I am part of the problem. I have this amazing platform and going forward I intend to use it to highlight the amazing women in sports. I am committed to doing my part in making sure Women's sports gets the attention they deserve and so is the 3rd and 3 Podcast.
To show our commitment we are making this an interactive platform for Womens sports, and we ask that anyone who has a story to reach out to us so we can highlight your story and get you on the show if you are comfortable. In the upcoming months we will be highlighting a local competitive dance soloist and supporting her efforts to get to the National Dance Competition by hosting an online fundraiser for her. More to come on that in the next few weeks!
We hope to continue this effort for many other women in sports and we hope you will all join us on this journey!