Untapped Potential: Why NCAA Women’s Basketball & WNBA are Goldmines
Did you know that women’s basketball leagues, such as the NCAAW and WNBA, are drawing more attention than ever? Both fans and investors have realized it’s an untapped market with immense potential. And only the early adopters will reap the benefits before it blows up like men’s basketball leagues, such as the NBA or the NCAA.
Let’s explore what’s fueling this newfound growth and the future for the fans and investors.
Only Data: Biggest Women’s Basketball Fans Are Among Gen Z
When you think about the fanbase of sports events like the WNBA or NCAAW, you don’t think about Gen Z. There’s a common misconception that the boomers still follow sports.
It’s not true.
Data from Kantar shows that 27% of Gen Z sports fans enjoy watching women’s basketball games, particularly WNBA. Even more interesting is that 21% of them keep tabs on the leagues!
Another noteworthy aspect of modern-day sports trends is that Gen Zers are not only interested in women’s basketball. They’re equally interested in other sports, too!
The connection to women’s basketball in Gen Z’s growing interest lies in how brands and influencers engage this audience through social media.
In case you’re unaware, Gen Z is more active on social platforms like Instagram and TikTok than any other generation. They also respond to authentic content that resonates with their values.
Brands and influencers in the women’s basketball space are leveraging this to enhance visibility and engagement. We’ve seen brands like Nike, Tissot, Pepsico, Google, and YouTube have partnered up with WNBA to offer more exposure.
Brand Loyalty: Money Connection Between Sports Investments and Fan Rewards
Loyalty goes a long way in the world of sports. If we look at the NCAA basketball, teams like Kansas and Kentucky have the largest fan bases. When this happens, the teams automatically draw more investments from big names, allowing them to improve on what they already have.
And when a team has more investments coming in, it only makes sense that it can give back to the fans even more. This is true not only for viewership but also for betting. Especially since online betting in dollars was legalized, the women’s basketball teams are seeing more investment influx than ever!
Broadcasters and Sponsors Fuel the Momentum
The growth of women’s basketball is not all about the fans. Reports show that broadcasters and sponsors are fueling it quite nicely.
Historically, women’s basketball doesn’t get enough exposure from mainstream media. It’s something the fans have also noticed. According to a report by Nielsen Fan Insights, 22% of the U.S. population agrees that there isn’t enough information to follow women’s basketball to begin with.
Another Nielsen report has found that mainstream sports media, such as ESPN SportCenters covered WNBA games for an average of 91 seconds only. In comparison to the NBA’s 266 seconds, the disparity is noticeable.
Thankfully, ESPN expanded its coverage of NCAAW since 2021 which resulted in double viewership of the matches.
This growing viewership and increased exposure creates a positive feedback loop that’s ultimately fueling the sport’s growth.
Upvoted Buzz from Quora and Reddit Around Women’s Basketball
We’ve all heard of popular forums like Quora and Reddit. Reddit, for starters, has multiple threads on NCAAW (r/NCAAW – 10.8k) and WNBA (r/wnba – 21k)where discussions regarding match day, season highlights, and influencer impact go on throughout the season.
You’ll also find poles for different games, discussions on specific matches, and news by experts like Michigan State Spartans and March Madness take place.
Quora, on the other hand, has long discussions on why women’s basketball isn’t getting enough traction, along with expert insights on how to overcome it. This community-driven approach is helping the networking to attract more attention to women’s basketball.
Why Don’t the WNBA and Women’s Basketball Lower the Rim?
The WNBA and women’s basketball maintain the standard 10-foot rim height to preserve the game’s integrity and consistency. Lowering the rim could suggest that women require different standards to compete, which contradicts the principles of equality and skill recognition in sports.
But that’s not the only reason behind it. The players have trained and honed their skills at this height. It means a change can potentially disrupt their playing style and techniques.
The 10-foot rim is a universal standard in basketball, and maintaining it in women’s leagues emphasizes the athletes’ abilities and achievements on the same scale as their male counterparts.
As Diana Taurasi once said, it would be like putting women back in the kitchen.
NCAAW More Popular than the WNBA?
Let’s compare the popularity of the NCAAW and the WNBA based on key metrics like revenue, viewership, and attendance.
The NCAAW, as part of college sports, draws enough viewership and support, particularly during key tournaments like the Final Four. Data from 2019 shows that it attracted an average of 3.6 million viewers!
The WNBA, though a professional league, operates on a smaller scale in comparison. The 2023 WNBA finals got an average of 728,000 viewers. It was the most watched finals in the last 20 years.
So, it’s safe to say that NCAAW is more popular than WNBA, although the trend might be changing in the coming years thanks to the increasing exposure and commercial partnerships.
Women’s Level Compared to Men?
While gaining popularity, women’s basketball still faces disparities compared to men’s basketball in terms of popularity, wages, and media exposure.
Popularity-wise, men’s basketball typically draws more attention. For instance, the NBA’s season includes 82 games compared to the WNBA’s 34, which impacts visibility and fan engagement.
However, women’s basketball is experiencing a rise in interest, partly due to increasing recognition of the players’ skills and the growing support for gender equality in sports.
The wage gap is also something to consider. WNBA players earn an average of $130,000 annually, starkly lower than the average NBA salary of $5.3 million! Even top WNBA players earn substantially less than their NBA counterparts.
Media coverage is another area where women’s basketball lags. Women’s sports receive only 4% of all sports media attention despite making up 40% of sports participation.
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