The unstoppable rise continues
With more exposure, appetite and investment than ever before, women’s sport is now firmly in the spotlight in 2023. No longer an afterthought, but a priority for all industry stakeholders, women’s sport is on an unstoppable rise.
Here are some of the key trends and insights to look out for in women’s sport this year, from our global team of women’s sport experts:
Maddie Simmons, UK
From when I first joined the sports industry, on the Grassroots Programme, through to today there has been a radical industry shift in the perceived value of women’s sports. As female athletes and women’s team and club sponsorship deals continue to evolve on this trajectory. I am most excited to see innovative storytelling campaigns come to the forefront, especially in the context of a Football and Netball World Cup and the new format, WXV tournament.
Brooke Destefani, US
This may be somewhat expected but I’m excited to see what the 2023 Women’s World Cup will bring for a couple of different reasons. I’m eager to see how sponsors show up and amplify the stories of the event, teams and players. I look for viewership to rise from previous years and, specifically for the US, be a catalyst for increased viewership and investment in the NWSL (National Women’s Soccer League). With the momentum that women’s soccer has generated in the past couple of years in terms of equal pay and sustained growth within the NWSL, it’s exciting to have chatter and buzz ahead of a World Cup instead of reacting to the event once it’s here.
Nicole Clark, UK
The thing that I am most excited about for this year across women’s sport is to see how brands, leagues and teams are promoting and authentically supporting the stories of incredible female athletes. We saw the impressive and wide reaching nature that the Women’s Euros had last year, but I am looking forward to the stories that are told this year and the other sports that are becoming more accessible among younger girls.
Matthew Tsang, Hong Kong
The 2022 AFC Women’s Asian Cup saw unprecedented engagement throughout the tournament, demonstrating the ongoing growth and interest in women’s football in Asia. The opportunity presented for participating nations this year could not get any better. These are very telling signs of commercial opportunities for brands, but more importantly, we hope the World Cup will continue to inspire many young and aspiring females in Asia to participate in football and sports as a whole.
Victoria Monk, UK
The women’s IPL demanded the world’s attention before the tournament had even started. Five women’s IPL franchises sold for a total of £465m (breaking the records of the inaugural men’s IPL in 2008), while its broadcast rights were acquired for $116.5m – one of the largest ever rights deals in women’s sport. The player auction sent shockwaves through team camps during the T20 World Cup – resulting in a handful of the current generation becoming amongst the best-paid team sports athletes in the world. Franchise tournaments such as the Women’s IPL, The Hundred in the UK and the Big Bash in Australia will be a catalyst for growth in the women’s game.
Kathryn Rhodes, Hong Kong
The FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia & New Zealand has to be top of my list. It’s going to be the first sporting event I take my daughter to and I’m so excited to see her reaction! She was mesmerised watching the FIFA World Cup last year on TV so this will be a whole new experience for her. As a Netball fan and player, I will also be glued to the Netball World Cup in Cape Town, South Africa to see if the Roses can replicate their iconic win at the Commonwealth Games in 2018. Finally, as we see China opening up again, global events will flood back which will provide a brilliant platform for women’s sport to flourish further.
Aysel Waring, UAE
Building upon the success of the World Cup in Qatar and other international sporting events in the region, 2023 promises to be another step up as there’s been a huge focus on keeping women’s sport moving forward in parallel to growing sport overall and CSM Middle East will be driving some of the biggest regional initiatives that will help to grow the industry. Two of the key programmes in 2023 are AD360 – an initiative launched by the Abu Dhabi Sports Council and Shuhub, an initiative launched by NEOM in 2022.
Erica Ighavbota, UK
Within a month of starting the CSM Grassroot Programme back in February 2021, I was able to contribute to an all-female panel for International Women’s Day highlighting the challenges women faced in sport. Looking back on my time at CSM since then, I can see the growth and the visibility that women’s sport has achieved in a relatively short space of time. Presently, I’m excited to witness the rise of women’s’ football and grateful to have contributed to this space through the accounts I work on. Looking ahead, I’m excited to watch the FIFA Women’s World Cup and to see teams make progress towards equal and fair pay across all leagues!
Nicola Dutton, UK
I believe that 2023 will bring an unprecedented acceleration in commercial growth in women’s sport. The visibility and momentum gained last year is a fantastic jumping off point – perceived value is increasing, brands and investors are starting to take notice, and it’s only a matter of time before they put their money where their mouth is.
Greg Francis, UK
We’re right in the middle of the most exciting and well followed Barclays Women’s Super League ever. I’m looking forward to watching Sam Kerr score week after week and lead Chelsea to the title! For me, it’s fantastic to see women’s football finally getting the respect and exposure it deserves. So, for 2023, I can’t wait to see more sold-out stadiums, more last-minute winners and more role models emerging from the sport as we head towards what promises to be an unforgettable FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia & New Zealand.
Hannah Mogg, UK
I am most looking forward to the Netball World Cup in South Africa. The 2022 Commonwealth Games accidently rekindled my love for netball after not watching or playing it at all for about 10 years (as it did for a lot of people because it happened to be on prime time tv). I think Netball is one of the most underrated spectator sports on the planet and the World Cup hosted by South Africa – a nation of netball enthusiasts – will be immense. You would be a fool to miss it!
Baylee Pryde, UK
In January we had England v Jamaica tri-series fully available on the BBC and then we had the Quad Series available on Sky. In Feb/March we moved into the domestic game with The Netball Super League and The Suncorp Super Netball which took centre stage on Sky. All this culminating in July when we see Cape Town host the Netball World Cup 2023, where England, Australia and Jamaica will be looking to knock New Zealand off the top spot following their title win in Liverpool 2019.
Brittnee Gilbert, US
In 2023, I am looking forward to following the FIFA Women’s World Cup (GO USA!). With last year’s headlines surrounding equal pay and the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, I am interested to see how global brands will activate their sponsorships surrounding the tournament.
Cameron Scott, UK
World Cups in football, netball & cricket, TikTok Women’s Six Nations, Tour De France Femmes, the conclusion of the most exciting Women’s Super League to date, the list goes on… With growing attendances, viewership, participation and commercial interest – I’m really excited for what’s set to be a great year for women’s sport on and off the field.