The Future is Female (Sports)


The Future is Female (Sports)

A newly released Nielsen survey (51% of those polled were male) indicated that 84% of sports fans (across 8 key global markets including the U.S. and U.K.) hold an interest in women’s sports. While interest in watching female competition is greatest when tethered to a male sporting event (think: MMA, tennis), 45% of those polled said they would consider attending a women’s sporting event and 46% said they would watch women’s sports more regularly, if they were more readily available on broadcast television (i.e. not an OTT service). Those supportive of women’s sports say they’re “more progressive and inspiring, less money-driven, more family-oriented and cleaner than men’s sports.”

Howie Long-Short: For all the talk that the average (see: male) sports fan isn’t interested in the women’s game, Nielsen’s gender-balanced survey base would seem to indicate otherwise; as would the 150 million fans who tuned in for UEFA Women’s Euro ’17 and the 51,000+ who showed up to watch the Liga MX Femenil final. Shares of Nielsen Holdings (NLSN) declined 25% on news Buy unit (think: data service) Q2 revenue declined -4% (to $789 million). NLSN will report Q3 earnings on 10.25.

If you (a sports league) build it (a fan base), they (the sponsors) will come. FC Barcelona is a good case study, as the club recently signed the most lucrative sponsorship deal in women’s pro sports history with Stanley Black and Decker (SWK). The 3-year pact (begins in ’18-’19), makes the tools and household hardware retailer the first main jersey partner in FC Barcelona women’s history. In mid-September, Stanley Black & Decker spent $234 million to acquire 20% of MTD Products (see: lawn and garden care power equipment). Shares hit a 6-month high on September 21st ($154.36), but have steadily declined (-15%) since; they’ll open at $130.92 on Friday October 12.

Fan Marino: It’s been announced that beginning with the 2019 season, World Surf League controlled events will offer female competitors prize money equal to that of their male counterparts; they currently earn just 50% of what the men take home ($100,000) for a World Tour win. While the progress is noteworthy, it’s should be noted that the WSL only made the decision to revamp its prize pool after a photo of a male surfer posing with a check 2x the size of the female’s next to him caused an uproar.

It’s not just the pay that is getting better for female athletes, in the NWSL their beginning (i.e. some teams) to receive better facilities (see: Utah Royals FC’s $1 million locker room) and medical treatment (see: Orlando Pride’s traveling masseuse) too; a far cry from the ice baths Sky Blue FC is taking in garbage cans. Interested in catching a NWSL match? A&E carries the Saturday Game of the Week on Lifetime.

Fun Fact: Did you know? The USWNT ’15 WC Final match was the highest rated soccer game in U.S. history.

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GumGum Helps Brands Understand Sponsorship Values

The New Orleans Saints and New Orleans Pelicans have signed season-long partnerships with GumGum Sports to help brands better understand the value of their team sponsorships. The artificial intelligence and computer vision company quantifies the exposure brand partners receive across television, streaming and social platforms; qualifying impressions by clarity, prominence and share of voice. Their proprietary methodology then assigns a dollar value to a given sporting event based on the cost of buying equivalent reach/engagement. The compressive sponsorship measurement tool enables brands to maximize ROI.

Howie Long-Short: GumGum Sports is a division of GumGum Visual Intelligence, a company that has raised $36 million dollars to date. The only public company to have invested in the in-image ad company though, has been Morgan Stanley (MS). Nielsen (NLSN) is also playing in the machine-learning sports media valuation space. The company acquired the Israeli competitor vBrand back in August.

Fan Marino: The Saints and Pelicans have had a busy November. Earlier in the month, the teams announced a partnership with SeatGeek; making the online ticketing company the primary ticketing platform of New Orleans sports, beginning next season. They become the first NFL & NBA teams to sign-on with the upstart company. Saints officials were recently quoted saying they were looking for a more fan-friendly, hassle-free ticketing experience; a dig at long-time partner Ticketmaster (LYV).

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comScore (OTC: SCOR) has reported that publishers who have pivoted to video, have seen at least a 60% drop in overall traffic. Fox Sports (FOXA), which made the decision in June to eliminate 20 writing and editorial positions, reallocating resources towards video production, editing and promotion; saw its audience decline an astounding 300%. Unique visitors dropped from 26.4 million in 2016 to just 9 million this past August, with time spent browsing on Fox Sports digital sites decreasing from 136 million minutes to just 56 million minutes.

Howie Long-Short: At the end of 2015, comScore acquired Rentrak; combining its expertise measuring web traffic with their expertise in TV audience metrics. The company appeared to be  prepared to challenge Nielsen (NLSN), before receiving notification it was being delisted from the NASDAQ exchange for non-compliance with SEC filing requirements. In September, SCOR announced it had hired a new CFO, removed 7 members from the board, settled several class action lawsuits and is undergoing a “complex and time consuming” financial review that would delay filing statements, and any chance of being relisted, until at least March 2018. SCOR is currently being traded over the counter. 

Fan Marino: Video ad spend is expected to rise from $10 billion in ’16 to $18 billion in ’20, so pivots to video are about publishers chasing ad dollars. Video is easier to monetize and is more valuable to advertisers, so on the surface it makes sense. Dig a bit deeper and you’ll notice that Fox Sports has experienced a significant decline in video viewership too (down from 1.4 million to 103K unique), meaning it is highly unlikely they are offsetting the loss of visitors with video ad dollars.

One For The Writers: Jamie Horowitz Torpedoed Fox Sports On His Way Out


Disney (DIS) CEO Bob Iger told investors that ESPN’s OTT service would be offered through a single app, starting in the Spring of 2018. He described the platform as a “sports marketplace”, where users will able to purchase sporting events on an ala carte basis. Iger anticipates the service offering 10,000 live events, that are not on the linear channel, within the first year; including regular season MLB and NHL games. No pricing information was released. 

Howie Long-Short: UBS studied the content that would air on the ESPN OTT app, reviewed an Evidence Lab survey, analyzed Nielsen (NLSN) data streams and compared the prospective offering to what currently exists in the market. They found that ESPN OTT is “only serving small niches”. You aren’t going to find an argument here. The average Joe isn’t buying collegiate volleyball games, sorry.

Fan Marino: ESPN can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig. They can aggregate all the non-televised programming they have and roll out a shiny new app, but they are still trying to sell you games that weren’t deemed worthy of airing on the linear channels.

Marvel And ‘Star Wars’ Films To Move From Netflix To New Disney Streaming Service


Nielsen (NLSN) has announced the launch of a new vertical that will track Esports analytics; providing growth and fan engagement insight. Nielsen Esports will offer sponsorship valuation, industry specific research and consulting services to rights holders, media platforms and brands who currently lack the data necessary to understand the value they are providing, receiving or missing out on. The newly created division will track sponsorship exposure and ROI, both on and off air.


Howie Long-Short: Esports is rapidly growing with 1 in 3 fans having just started to follow competitive gaming in the last 12 months. It’s estimated that by 2021 the industry will be worth $1.1 billion. I don’t understand the appeal, but Esports are here to stay.

Fan Marino: It is time to accept the fact that there will be a day when people are more interested in the Madden Championship game, than the Super Bowl.


ABC is the latest television network to subscribe to Nielsen’s (NLSN) out-of-home reporting service. As cord cutting increases, networks are looking to bars, restaurants and gyms (among many other places) for an audience lift. The incremental boost derived from out-of-home viewership helps networks during the media buying process, as it gives them more precise audience guarantees. ESPN (DIS), Fox Sports (FOXA), CNN and Turner (TWX) are already subscribers to the service and have seen a spike in viewership, with news programming and live sports the biggest beneficiaries.


Howie Long-Short: Early reports from NLSN shows that OOH figures could potentially increase total viewership numbers by as much as 20% for news and sports. So all those stories about the end of TV as we know it; yeah, they were all based on incomplete data.

Fan Marino: NLSN is just figuring out they should count bars & restaurants in their viewership numbers? Is it safe to assume execs haven’t left their house on a fall Sunday in 30 years?