June 24, 2024

The Top 10 Companies Advertising in Women’s Sports in 2023: Data

  • Advertisers in the top women’s sports have reached nearly a billion more households in 2023 than in each of the past two years, new data shows.
  • Buick, Nissan, and Subway have the biggest share of ad impressions this year.
  • The Women’s World Cup is a big focus for brands to reach a growing audience.

More people are watching women’s sports in 2023, and advertisers are noticing.

The first match of US Women’s National Team in the Women’s World Cup averaged an audience of 5.3 million viewers on July 21, according to the Associated Press. The AP reported that viewership increased 99% from the team’s first match of the 2019 World Cup, per Fox and Nielsen.

Looking at women’s sports broadly, the WNBA, NWSL, LPGA, and women’s college basketball and softball have provided 8.59 billion household TV ad impressions from January 1 through July 19, already surpassing totals from the past two years, according to iSpot.tv, which analyzes TV advertising.

This year, the top 10 advertisers in these events have a combined 1.3 billion household views. That’s up from 785 million for the same 10 companies in all of 2022, and 439 million in 2021.

Here are the top 10 advertisers in women’s sports in 2023:

Note: The data from iSpot includes first-airing of WNBA, NWSL, LPGA, and women’s college basketball and softball events from January 1 to July 19.

Each of these 10 advertisers has earned at least 100 million household views from women’s sports so far this year, a mark that just four of those companies reached in all of 2022, and only Capital One surpassed in 2021.

“On top of this being the right thing to do, it’s also a smart investment based on the continued growth trajectory,” Gatorade’s global head of sports marketing Jeff Kearney wrote in a statement to Insider.

Data from iSpot doesn’t capture the whole industry — by only tracking traditional TV viewership, it excludes local channels, streaming, and digital — but it still provides a window into the growing advertising opportunities in women’s sports. The company couldn’t provide spending estimates, but instead gave Insider household TV ad impressions, marketing speak for views on a household level, for all WNBA, NWSL, LPGA, and women’s college basketball and softball events from Jan. 1 through July 19.

Other data also suggest that as women’s sports viewership has increased in recent years, so have ad dollars. Global spending on women’s sports sponsorship rose 47% between 2017 and 2020 to $386 million, according to the latest published data from Nielsen Sports.

Buick and Nissan were top advertisers in record-breaking women’s March Madness

Buick is leading the way in 2023 with 200 million household views for its women’s sports advertising, a jump from 53 million in 2022 and 13 million in 2021. Most of those eyeballs came from the NCAA women’s basketball tournament, for which the company had 141 million household views. Buick made up more than 5% of all commercials in a tournament that, at 2.7 billion household views, almost twice as many people watched than did last year.

Buick has one of the highest percentages of sales to women in the auto industry at just over 50%, the company’s chief marketing officer Molly Peck told Insider, so advertising in women’s sports makes sense for its customer base.

“When we can find those passion points that are important to our audience,” Peck said, “it builds affinity for the brand.”

Buick’s “See Her Greatness” campaign, featuring moments like Arike Ogunbowale’s national championship-winning buzzer beater, shows a sliver of the highlights to emphasize that women’s sports only get 10% of media coverage. The company also started buying in 2022 an equal number of ads in the men’s and women’s college basketball tournaments.

“We hear this in our testing feedback and we also see it on social media,” Peck said. “People say, ‘Wow, I wasn’t considering Buick for my next vehicle, but after seeing this, after seeing your commitment, I’m in. I’m looking at Buick, I’m buying Buick.'”

Nissan, another top advertiser in women’s sports, sponsored both the men’s and women’s March Madness tournaments. The 9.9 million viewers for the women’s championship made it the most-viewed college basketball game ever aired on ESPN, men’s or women’s.

“Women’s sports are gaining the platform and recognition they have long deserved,” the car company’s CMO Marisstella Marinkovic told Insider in a statement.

The Women’s World Cup, which kicked off July 20 in Australia and New Zealand, offers another significant opportunity for companies to reach the growing audience of women’s sports fans.

Ally Financial debuted a commercial during the World Cup promoting women’s sports. The company made a commitment last year to spend half of its media marketing in women’s sports, and a marketing exec said the brand’s likeability, preference, and awareness is up among women’s sports fans.

Along with Ally, companies that partnered with current or former USWNT players for new commercials for the World Cup include Degree, GEICO, Google Pixel, Nike, Subway, Volkswagen, and Wells Fargo.

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