A lot of focus exists today in getting girls to play sports. From soccer to softball, lacrosse to gymnastics -- any participation is great in that it helps build confidence and moxie in our daughters. At the same time, however, almost every sports media website reaches a male dominated audience, while TV coverage of major sports leagues definitely tilts to a "guys bias."
What is missing is more focus on this impressionable young female audience by the male dominated NFL, MLB and NBA to turn these little girls into big time sports fans -- and at the same time figure out how to make today's women and moms into bigger fans as well. Ultimately, there's a whole new audience for the marketers and media outlets of these sports to reach with big time financial upside to be had. Here's how to go about it.
Start with the premise that young girls find watching and following their local teams as exciting as the boys in their class. As Exhibit A I offer up my second grade daughter who is as much a Giants fan as anyone living in the Bay Area. Local teams like the Giants are doing a better job singling out the female audience, but they could be doing more.
For example, promotions geared to get more girls and women to the games on a consistent basis will not only bolster gate revenue, but might make it not so far fetched to see women-focused brands showing up in stadium signage. Perhaps the L'Oreal logo on the leftfield wall at Yankee Stadium isn't too far afield?
Beyond the team-level marketing, the best marketing vehicle any sport has in terms of engaging fans are the players. Again, girls and boys instantly connect with the players on a team. This time Exhibit B is my older daughter who since we moved back to San Francisco three years ago has been a Tim Lincecum fan. She's a fan for many of the same reasons her boy classmates are -- Lincecum's a star player.
Being able to create some exclusive venues for players to spend time coaching or just connecting with girls would go a long way towards turning these young girls in to fans for life. Maybe over time we'd see the average demographics of fan bases migrate towards the 50-50 mark. If they get to 50-50 it will certainly be incremental audience and revenue opportunities for teams, especially since women often control the majority of the purchasing power in U.S. households.
But the biggest opportunity to extend this connection between girl and women fans with pro sports exists within the ever expanding reach of digital media. In this context the opportunity fast-forwards from young girls to women. Following the trends in real-time entertainment, women fans often find the personalities and storylines that exist outside the "white lines" to be the more compelling aspects of following a MLB, NFL or NBA team.
Imagine if teams could invest in creating and/or aggregating content about the players - particularly their personal lives -- basically delivering the People magazine side of sports. Heck, MLB already started down this path a few years ago when they started an All-Star balloting promotion with -- yes, People magazine!
If leagues, teams or even media companies figure out how to "program" to the female audience in a compelling way the stories of their stars in the same way the entertainment industry covers celebrities and pop culture, pro sports leagues and teams would benefit by attracting and engaging more women fans.
Just like Allysa Milano has created a side career designing women's clothing for pro sports teams, there's an opportunity to create content about pro sports that combines the on field analysis of the games with a more entertaining slice of what's happening beyond the game.
Oh, and before you call this out as stereotypical thinking, I can confirm two last points. These are the types of storylines that my wife would absolutely follow about pro sports -- especially around the local teams -- and I'd be willing to bet quite a few men would be reading this content as well.