Despite the national female-male earnings ratio growing to record high (80.5%) in 2016, the gap in sports sponsorship pay has widened since 2014. The size of the sport’s television audience and athlete’s social media following are often cited as the reasons for discrepancy. Men’s tennis star Novak Djokovic, who earned more in endorsement money ($28 million) than Serena Williams ($19 million) in 2017, was recently quoted saying, “the stats are showing that we have much more spectators on the men’s matches. I think that’s one of the reasons why maybe we should get awarded more.” In April, the USWNT was successful in garnering “equitable” (not equal, as the compensation is structured differently) pay; after arguing their performance on the pitch was far superior to that of the men’s team and that the USWNT is more profitable.
Howie Long-Short: There would seem to be value in female endorsement deals. Women control 70-80% of consumer purchases and the women’s active wear market is booming ($18 billion in annual sales). As OTT niche programming becomes more prevalent, the audience size for women’s sports will rise. That will help women close the gap in endorsement pay.
Fan Marino: ESPN (DIS) Baseball analyst Jessica Mendoza emceed the 34th Annual March of Dimes Sports Luncheon, presented by Ford (F), on Tuesday. JWS had the chance to get her thoughts on the growing sports sponsorship pay gap.
Jessica: As much as you (brands) want to get young boys to buy because Steph Curry is wearing that shoe, there are just as many girls that would do the same if Skylar Diggins was wearing them (signature shoe). I believe in my heart girls play sports. I know I bought a bat based on who I saw swinging it. I think the key is being able to get that (message/product) out there enough, to where you (brands) start to see the return. At the end of the day, it’s not a charity. It’s not like “oh we’re going to give women more money because it’s the right thing to do”; you’re going to make decisions because it’s the business thing to do.
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