Women’s Sports: Going From Strength to Strength

In the past few weeks, we have seen a series of announcements and events that demonstrate that the shift in the Women’s sporting landscape is happening quicker than ever. Nielsen Sports’ expert Lynsey Douglas analyses the impact for brands and rights holders within the sports business.


A record attendance of over 60,000 at the Wanda Metropolitano watched Atlético Madrid vs FC Barcelona’s key match in the Liga Femenina Iberdrola, the France vs Nigeria pool A FIFA Women’s World Cup match sold out within 2 days and brands are getting serious and spending big for this summer’s FIFA Women’s World Cup! It’s one of the major events in the global sporting calendar and is an opportunity for brands to be noticed and engage on a large scale.

On a global level, Visa announced they will invest the same marketing budget in the Women’s Game as they spent around the FIFA Men’s World Cup. This comes on the back of the announcement in 2018 that they have become the first major sponsor of UEFA Women’s Football, in addition to their existing sponsorship of the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

We’ve also seen the traditional battle of the apparel brands commence, with adidas announcing equal pay bonuses for FIFA Women’s World Cup Winners as they paid to Men’s World Cup Winners. Executive board member of the global apparel giant and long-term FIFA sponsor adidas, Eric Liedtke, said:

“We believe in inspiring and enabling the next generation of female athletes, creators and leaders through breaking barriers.”
Download your free copy of “The Rise of Women’s Sports”

The following week Nike launched their Women’s football campaign with an event in Paris, showcasing their new specifically female designed kits for 14 of the teams competing this summer. The event also was an announcement of their partnership with UEFA Women’s Football as well as highlighting their grassroots activity to develop the game.

It will be exciting to see what the next few months bring from the Adidas vs Nike battleground of major global events, look out for emotional and inspiring content!

In the UK we’ve seen the FA capitalising on the Lionesses high hopes for the tournament, with Mars, Lucozade and Budweiser extending their sponsorships to the team. It was announced in the last days that Barclays will become title partner of the FA Women’s Super League from the 2019/20 season. In a significant multi-million pound investment it is a game changer for Women’s Sport in the UK, with Barclays committed to developing the game at all levels. Jes Staley, Group CEO of Barclays said:

“Our commitment to women’s and girls’ football, at a crucial time in its development, goes beyond pure sponsorship – we believe it can be a key to increasing participation, development and the wider visibility of the female game.”

What is great to see here is the FA being able to get these deals in place ahead of the World Cup, ready to make the most of the exposure the team will get this summer.

As well as expecting a large TV audience for this summer’s tournament, building on the 150m who watched the Women’s Euro’s in 2017, we may see a step change in the football content ecosystem.

At a recent Leaders event, I heard from Rebecca Smith, Global Executive Director of the Women’s Game for Copa 90 and Benny Bonsu, Women’s Sport Editorial Lead, Women’s Sport, who both have recently been appointed to their senior positions. Both very impressive and experienced, they are sure to be game changers in the strategy of these two media outlets to represent Women’s Sport at all levels.


These brands, rights holders and media outlets are realising the potential of Women’s Sport and we are seeing the landscape is changing quicker than ever. At Nielsen Sports we’ve created a whitepaper to help the industry identify and maximise these opportunities.

Download a free copy here, it helps demonstrate some of the most pertinent data points driving these trends and how the foundations are being laid to ensure women’s sport continues to grow and grow.

For further insights into the rise of women’s Sport, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Lynsey Douglas, Women’s Sport Global Lead & Head of Brands

Lynsey Douglas
Women’s Sport Global Lead & Head of Brands, Nielsen Sports
Lynsey.Douglas@nielsen.com