Women’s sport: The importance of purpose-led messaging

There is no denying that women’s sport is a hot topic right now with The UEFA Champions League finding new streaming partners, the increase in female pundits on TV for key sports events, as well as record-breaking pre-COVID crowds for women’s sporting events.

YouGov recently published their Women in Sport 2021 report focussing on the growth in women’s sport with some interesting findings. The report highlighted both positives and areas for improvement, something that Story10 is actively looking to help raise awareness of.

There are many factors that contribute to the barriers between Women’s sport and audiences, some of which we’ve focused on below:  

Media coverage or more importantly the lack of it

According to the YouGov report [1] 40% of respondents stated that the lack of media coverage was the reason why they don’t engage with women’s sport. This is unsurprising when you note the average proportion of women’s sports coverage pre-COVID was around the 4% mark with it never reaching over 10% despite fluctuations during exceptional moments such as the World Cup [2].

Story10 can approach this from both sides. We actively engage with our global distribution network to understand the type of content they are looking for. Over the last few years, there have been more requests for content around women’s sports events and female athletes. Our team can then work with brands and federations to ensure that they are offering the right content and stories that will resonate best with our network’s audiences - a blend of premium sport, purpose- and athlete-led crossover content performs strongly.

Last year our partnership with W Series, saw us shoot and curate authentic news stories, including interviews in English and native language with a number of drivers, to help promote their E-League tournament. Alongside event highlights, these athlete stories helped build awareness and increase exposure of both the tournament and the drivers themselves. The content was used widely around the world, most notably across Europe and Asia, clearly showing there is an appetite for this type of content both from media organisations and their audiences alike.

Lack of knowledge

35% of survey respondents stated a lack of knowledge about teams and/or athletes as the main reason for a lack of engagement, with YouGov commenting ‘Storytelling and drama must be at the heart of women’s sport, just as it is to men’s. If they are to keep returning to it, viewers need to be able to keep track of the narratives that keep a sport or league interesting.’

Storytelling and drama must be at the heart of women’s sport, just as it is to men’s.

This limiting factor of a lack of knowledge is one that can be remedied - men’s sport is no different to women’s. Taken in isolation, games and teams may lack appeal, but when woven together, with rivalries, human dramas and the heat of competition, the narrative becomes much more compelling.

In a recent webinar, hosted by Story10 - Purpose-led messaging: engaging sports fans globally – the importance of storytelling was reiterated by Jo Diamond, Partnership Director at W Series, who spoke about how different narratives from individual drivers tell a collective and compelling story to inspire other women to get into motorsport.

Story10 understands the importance of creating truly authentic branded content and continues to work with brands and federations to create compelling narratives that capture the attention of new and current fans whilst increasing brand awareness.

Highlights are key

30% of respondents say that ‘seeing highlights had sparked interest, while 42% of respondents said ‘watching international events’ was what had sparked their interest. While it is important that around the international events such as the Women’s World Cup and Olympics there is a lot of female-centric coverage, it is equally important that coverage is not just episodic, but that there is a continual ‘beating of the drum’ of women’s sports and their athletes throughout the year.

This is why we work with our partners across different sports to ensure that we’re showcasing as many women’s sporting events as possible, as well as female athlete stories, be that features around Olympic hopefuls or interviews with VISA brand ambassadors during lockdown last year. 

Availability of news content

58% of consumers think that the ‘availability of news about women’s sport’ has improved in recent years, whilst 42% do not. Although this shows signs of improvement, this is not surprising with the continuous fragmentation of the media landscape.

At Story10 we really understand the value of the sports news agenda and believe that by working together with our partners involved in women’s sport, we can create authentic news stories, alongside event action, that increases visibility of women’s sport and places it and female athletes at the heart of the global sports conversation throughout the year, whilst building a long-lasting narrative and highlighting key stakeholder messages. 

Story10 provides a global platform to amplify your purpose-led messaging within women’s sport. Find out how we can help you through our network of owned and earned media channels.

Get in touch

It would be great to hear your thoughts on the topic, reach out via our LinkedIn page.

[1] YouGov’s Women in Sport Report 2021  (2021)
[2] Ali Bowes. “Coverage of women’s sport is pathetic at the best of times – the lockdown has made it even worse.” (2020)