Women's Sport Untapped in SA

13 Feb 2020

Nielsen’s latest report has revealed that there is a great opportunity for South African rights-holders and sponsors to use women’s sport to build their brand or profile.

That’s in the wake of the growth and interest in women’s sport worldwide.

The 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 revealed 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 said that they were much more likely to consider and/or purchase a brand that supported 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.

“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 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.”

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 South Africa. 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 has increased, with a 49% increase in monetary size of all deals between 2013 and 2017.

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 that they didn’t know much about women’s sport because it is rarely covered.

“The reality is, South African audiences have not been exposed to quality women’s sport yet,” said Watt. “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 sport. That’s the end game.”

“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.”