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Laura GroverMarch 14, 20243 min read

Women’s Sports Are on Fire — And That’s Great News for Advertisers

With March Madness upon us, college basketball fans are eagerly anticipating another perfect month of thrilling upsets, captivating narratives, and bracket-induced euphoria. 

But there is one thing that’s different about this year: the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament is now generating the same level of interest, hype, and, well, madness that we typically associate with the men.

Last year’s NCAA women’s championship was the most-watched title game in the tournament’s history, with an average of 9.9 million viewers tuning in to watch Louisiana State top the University of Iowa. And this year’s tournament is filled with exciting storylines, from Caitlin Clark’s attempt to cap her meteoric rise to national fame with Iowa’s first national championship to unbeaten South Carolina’s pursuit of a perfect season.

For TV advertisers, this is massive. After all, live sports consistently drive consumers to engage with brand advertising — which is a proven predictor of business outcomes. As the women’s tournament continues to grow, brands will have another great place to reach large audiences in an environment where viewers are highly likely to engage with advertisers.

Even better news for TV marketers? NCAA basketball is just one of the women’s sports that is growing in popularity and driving increasingly powerful results for advertisers.


From the WNBA to the World Cup, women’s sports are putting points on the board for advertisers 

When women’s sports events like the NCAA Tournament grow in viewer interest, they don’t just draw larger audiences — they also become more likely to drive viewers to engage with the advertisers they see during the games.

For instance, did you know that the resurgent WNBA had its most-watched finals in 20 years in 2023? And according to EDO’s predictive outcomes data, viewers were 30% more likely to engage with advertising brands than they were during the previous year’s finals.

A similar story is playing out across the sports landscape, with the National Women’s Soccer League, WNBA, NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament, and women’s tennis all earning year-over-year engagement growth for their championship games or series. 

In fact, this year’s U.S. Open women’s tennis final was 36% more effective for advertisers than the average Grand Slam tournament of the past three years — across both men’s and women’s play.


Women’s athletes give advertisers an added boost 

Naturally, the growing interest in women’s sports has also carried over to star players like the aforementioned Caitlin Clark, tennis phenom Coco Gauff, and so many more. And when fans see these stars in ads during their favorite women’s sports events, they’re even more likely to engage with the advertising brands.

For instance, State Farm’s ads featuring Clark have been 46% more effective than average since this past November — and they generate an additional 28% boost in effectiveness when they air during Clark’s Iowa Hawkeyes games.

Meanwhile, New Balance ads featuring Gauff were 379% more likely to generate engagement during women’s sports programming than the average women’s sports advertiser in 2023.

The lesson? There’s a whole new crop of celebrity athletes who can deliver for TV advertisers.


It’s time to take advantage of the best-kept secret in TV advertising

For advertisers, there’s never been a better time to explore what women’s sports can do for your media plan. 

Beyond the NCAA Tournament, sports fans will be eagerly anticipating the U.S. gymnastics team’s quest for gold at the Paris 2024 Olympics in August, Gauff’s attempt to repeat at the U.S. Open in September, and the Las Vegas Aces’ pursuit of a third consecutive WNBA title in October.

By identifying the most engaging women’s sports events and developing a data-driven media plan, modern marketers can capitalize on a growing opportunity in an area that is considerably less saturated than the world of men’s sports. In doing so, they’ll be able to drive greater TV outcomes and chart a path to their own championship moment.

In other words: It’s time to get off the sidelines and into the game.