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The Future of Sports Marketing is Here: Women’s College Athletics

The Future of Sports Marketing is Here: Women’s College Athletics

Jun 12, 2024


Corey Bruno


Sports Marketing

Social media has revolutionized how brands communicate with consumers, and nowhere is this more evident than in sports marketing. Working with Athlete-Creators allows brands to strategically craft genuine content, advertise products authentically, and directly reach their target audience, enhancing brand visibility and ROI. Interestingly, it's a sector dominated by female athletes.

The Rising Influence of Female Athlete Creators

From Livvy Dunne and Flau'jae Johnson to Angel Reese, female college athletes are excelling in sports and captivating millions with engaging content. Collectively, just these three athletes reach 23 million people on Instagram and TikTok. They've transcended being just athletes to become full-fledged influential figures with the ability to drive brand engagement and expand reach like few others can. Livvy, Flau'jae, and Angel are just the tip of the iceberg of trailblazers - paving the way for thousands of other female athlete-creators set to follow their powerhouse lead.

Explosive Viewership Growth

The rise of athlete-creators coincides with unprecedented viewership growth for women's sports, suggesting a synergy between better talent and increased media attention driven by social media stars. Several female sports have been on the rise:

Women's NCAA Basketball

Women's NCAA Basketball achieved record viewership highs from the second round through the national championship in 2024, demonstrating the growing popularity.

Brands now need to seriously consider partnering with these athletes when in college instead of waiting until they hit the league.

WNBA Viewership Surge

The WNBA saw a remarkable 60% year-over-year viewership increase among people of color, led by 96% growth with Hispanic fans and 67% with African American fans. Tip-off week also saw a 124% increase in Under 35 viewership and 139% growth in young girls tuning in, driven by new stars like Caitlin Clark, Cameron Brink, and Angel Reese.

NCAA Softball Viewership Surge

NCAA softball has been a sleeper hit, averaging over 800,000 viewers for the past decade with a peak of 2.3 million in 2023 - more than Caitlin Clark's WNBA debut. These college athletes are now going pro in the Athletes Unlimited Pro Softball league.

Insights from an Expert: Laura Miranda of B.Partners

To gain deeper insights into women's athletics, we spoke with Laura Miranda, co-founder of B.Partners, a female-founded consulting group specializing in revenue growth through integrated media programs and brand partnerships. Miranda is deeply knowledgeable in the women's sports business, bringing valuable expertise and perspective to the conversation.

Working with Female Athletes

Through her extensive experience collaborating with female athletes, Miranda has witnessed firsthand the powerful, mutually beneficial impacts created when brands foster authentic partnerships in this space. As she puts it:

"Female athletes provide a rich story for brands, both natural and strategic on social media, and overcome so much to get to where they are today." says Miranda.

Females athletes ability to connect authentically with audiences makes them invaluable to brands looking to enhance their marketing strategies.

The Future Growth of Marketing in Women’s Sports

Miranda sees a bright future for women’s sports, especially with the rise of creators. "Women athletes like Angel Reese and Cameron Brink are transcending the game, even influencing fashion. They are bringing new demographics to the sport, comparable to the Taylor Swift effect in the NFL.”

Rising Industry Trends

Miranda notes that emerging brands, recognizing the significance of authentic partnerships with female college athletes, are entering the market and outperforming competitors.

Brands that fail to capitalize on this growing trend risk losing their ability to connect with younger demographics and remain relevant in today's digital-driven age.

Increasing Visibility for Lesser-Known Women’s Sports

Improving the visibility of lesser-known women’s sports is crucial. "Coverage on social media is essential because women athletes are developing their own channels, increasing overall viewership and engagement," Miranda explains. This grassroots approach is enhancing the visibility of both the sport and the athletes themselves.

The Future is Female

The future of sports marketing is powered by women's college athletics. With social media-savvy female athletes leading, brands can forge authentic connections with vast, engaged audiences. By aligning with these influential voices organically, companies can drive success and lead this transformative industry shift.

Ready to stay ahead in the world of Athlete Marketing?

Ready to stay ahead in the world of Athlete Marketing?