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  • Bob Sillick

Women Are Sports Fans, Too

Watching sports on TV would lead one to think there are no women in the audience. Most of the brands’ and retailers’ commercials, from pickup trucks to beer to fast-food and fast-casual restaurants, seem to be targeting men, exclusively.

Data from five representative 2021 consumer/market surveys conducted by Local Sports Insights validates this trend, as men over-index as high school, college and professional sports fans while women under-index.

That may be the wider story, but the greatest value of Local Sports Insights’ surveys is they dive deeper into the data to reveal where women as sports fans are excellent target audiences for brands and retailers. For example, the following table shows the average indices for women as fans of high school, college and professional sports by generation in the five representative markets.

Gen Z women over-index so significantly as fans of high school sports because likely they still have interest, having recently graduated from high school. Millennial women probably over-index because the older women now have children playing high school sports.

As with all sports fans, the older generations are generally attracted to college sports more than younger generations since those older adults are following their alma maters and may also have children playing on college teams.

A “sweet spot” for brands and retailers are the Millennial and Gen X women who over-index as fans of professional sports and even the older women still index reasonably well.

Women are also e-sports fans, but in many market surveys from Local Sports Insights, they represent approximately one-third of all fans, on average. Nonetheless, it’s the youngest women who over-index the most as e-sports fans in an average of the five representative markets.

  • Gen Zers – 151

  • Millennials – 219

  • Gen Xers – 62

  • Boomers – 24

With the legalization of sports betting in many US states and the billions being spent (and billions more forecast to be spent), women are enjoying the action and a much broader segment of them.

As mentioned above, beer brands are major in-stadium sponsors and sports TV advertisers. Comparing another set of data from the five Local Sports Insights consumer/market surveys reveals quite a contrast of the style of beer men and women purchase who are fans of professional sports. While men are more likely to buy regular beer brands, women are more likely to buy non-alcoholic brands.

Undoubtedly, men who are sports fans will continue to be the prime target for the same brands and retailers that have always targeted these men. As more women’s sports – basketball, soccer, the Olympics, etc. – grow in popularity and more women are hired as major sports coaches and executives, the audience will increase in its value for brands and retailers.

They should never forget women have money to spend and typically control and/or influence as much as 75% of all household spending.

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