Two women play basketball during a game.

Pro women’s sports make business sense. But will we invest in them?

With the buzz around women’s professional hockey and basketball, it’s clear that women’s sport is having a well-deserved moment. Hockey arenas are being filled. Stars like Caitlin Clark in basketball and Marie-Philip Poulin in hockey are growing viewership of the games. And, according to the organization Canadian Women & Sport, now is the time to further advance pro women’s sport in Canada. 

The way to do that? The fans.

After conducting a recent study, Canadian Women & Sport presented a business case for a thriving women’s professional sport market. Through the research, the organization determined that fans are the key to unlocking this vibrant marketplace in Canada.

Fans of women’s sport are very valuable to business

According to the study, fans of women’s sport in Canada hold tremendous value for sport businesses.

2 in 3 Canadians are fans of women’s sport. The belief that Canadians don’t care about women’s sport is a myth. The study tells us that “Canadians see women’s sport as athletic and exciting—they watch, follow, and engage where they can.” In fact, this study was conducted even before the launch of the PWHL and, since then, Canadians have been filling hockey arenas repeatedly.

Fans of women’s sports are a desirable audience. For business purposes, you can’t get much better than having a diverse, affluent, educated group of people deeply invested in something. And that’s exactly what fans of women’s sport are. This gives brands and investors an opportunity to connect to a very desirable audience.

There may be the opinion held by some that there isn’t a viable market for women’s sport in Canada. This research, and the 17 million Canadians who consider themselves fans of women’s sport, should be enough evidence to refute that claim.

But maximizing the value of fans requires investment 

We know that fans need Canadian teams to cheer for. They need high-quality sports that are easy to find and watch and follow. The PWHL is an exciting start, and momentum is growing. But to move into the next phase, Canadian Women & Sport suggests that leagues, teams, and athletes need investors who are committed. 

Some of the strategic investment ideas include:

  • Promoting and featuring prominent athletes to build fandom for new teams
  • Providing broadcasted games, content on traditional and social media, merchandise that is designed for a diverse audience
  • Relatively affordable ticket prices to help build fandom
  • Grassroots engagement strategies that connect new leagues and teams to community sport 
  • Embedding gender equity into every level of Canadian sport

As the study states, “This isn’t a hypothetical opportunity. Case studies have been written, potential has been realized, and records have been broken.”

It’s an exciting time for women and sport in Canada. The hope now is that businesses see the opportunity that fans already have.

Find the full report from Canadian Women & Sport here.

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