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Industry Leaders Come Together To Discuss Future Of Women’s Sport

June 8, 2020

French Football Federation Secretary General Laura Georges, Sports Innovation Lab CEO Angela Ruggiero and Google’s Head of Global Sports & Entertainment Marketing Partnerships, Content & Media Kate Johnson came together to discuss the future  of women’s sport on Thursday, in the latest episode of Talking Sport – powered by Eleven Sports and World Football Summit.

The webinar was moderated by Co-founder of The Offside Rule Lynsey Hooper and titled ‘From World Cup glory to COVID-19: The future for women’s sport’. Some key take-outs from the session as follows:

Laura Georges, on female athletes being more available to sponsors:

“If you talk about Olympique Lyonnais, the best women’s team in the world, what makes the difference is that the president there is really giving a lot of support to the women’s team. Also, some brands decided that ‘ok, we cannot afford to have the men, but we’ll decide to work with the women’s team’. What they’ve found as brands by collaborating with Olympique Lyonnais and their girls is that the girls are available. They say ‘this is what we like, we are close to the players’. The players have the right image and are close to the fans. They take the time after the games and it’s really showing that ‘if we want to support the women’s game then we receive a lot back’. But, it’s also the decision of the leaders who say ‘ok, this is what I expect of you, you are a brand and you want to work with us, but you need to step up your game and really give the best of your knowledge and competence to put the women’s game forward’.”

Kate Johnson, on making more content available to fans:

“There’s going to be a call on players to be more accessible, there’s going to be a call on making sure that content and behind the scenes content is going to have to evolve. I think federations are going to have to open up the aperture on what they are willing to let fans into from a behind the scenes perspective and even from a broadcast and a commercial perspective, making sure that what used to be so protected from a commercial rights perspective, where content is concerned… We’ve got to change the game and make sure that content is more accessible to fans and also more accessible to brands because I think that’s where the value comes. For brands to continue to lean in from an investment perspective, there has to be increased value in terms of how they’re able to connect with their audiences too. I think there is an opportunity for women to actually be innovative and lead that charge.”

Angela Ruggiero, CEO of Sports Innovation Lab, on women’s sport’s greater flexibility:

“The biggest advantage that women’s sports has today is that we’re not beholden to the typical way of doing business. We don’t have long-term rights, we don’t have the same long-term contracts. We have the opportunity to lean in and to create more branded content… What if 90% of the league is just branded content around the athletes because we know fluid fans, which is what we talk about at Sports Innovation Lab every day, these new-age fans want to do things differently […] What can we do in the time of COVID-19 to think differently? To lean in to fluid fans, which do things very differently. They’re open to change, empowered to choose and constantly evolving. That’s the three pillars of the fluid fan. That’s what I want this conversation to be about. It’s about how do we rethink the model rather than go ‘please don’t cut us, it’s the right thing to do’. Yes, of course it’s the right thing to do. Let’s get that out of the way. How do we do things differently? That’s the conversations I get fired up about because women have the nimbleness that the men do not. And that is an advantage we should lean in to.”

Next week’s episode of Talking Sport will focus on investment opportunities and challenges during Covid-19 and beyond. For full details and to register click here.

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