Long reads

DTVE Data Weekly: World Cup rights gain from the growth of women’s sports

Despite rising audiences and attendance, media rights lag well behind men’s sports

The 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, which kicked off last month and concluded with the final game on August 30, has become the most valuable women’s property globally, with rights revenue of $70–100m, according to Omdia’s estimates. FIFA argued strongly with broadcasters— particularly in Europe—to offer more money for the rights. Their case is supported by the increasing TV audiences for professional women’s sports, which are often on par with men’s events. Attendance and sponsorship are also growing. However, rights revenue for women’s leagues is far behind men’s events. The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) tennis tour, for example, is less than a third of the value of the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) Tour. No other major women’s league is worth more than even 2% of its equivalent men’s league. Women’s sports are also seeing a boost from the rise of live streaming. DAZN is heavily emphasizing women’s sports, paying more for media rights globally than any other broadcaster or platform.

There are significantly fewer professional women’s sports leagues than men’s. Many women’s leagues are in the growth stage and are looking to grow exposure more than rights revenue. Although premium competitions have successfully monetised their rights in recent years, smaller competitions are often still forced to give away the rights for their matches cheaply, on a revenue share basis or even for free if the broadcaster agrees to pay for the production costs.

Media rights Value

Omdia estimates the FIFA Women’s World Cup to be the most valuable women’s competition globally in terms of media rights, worth $70–100m. This value does not include deals from the US, Canada, Brazil, and other Latin America & Caribbean markets, where the rights are still bundled with the men’s World Cup. Seven of the top 11 most valuable women’s events are soccer league championships, reflecting the global appeal of the sport and the success the women’s game has had in establishing itself worldwide. The second-placed US Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) owes its position to multiple broadcast partnerships with ESPN, CBS, Ion, Amazon, and others. The WTA tennis tour brings in $49m from a 10-year deal with WTA Media, a joint venture between the Tour and DAZN Group that started in 2014.

Omdia expects DAZN Group spent the most on broadcasting rights for women’s sports globally in 2023, with an estimated expenditure of $72m.

FIFA Women’s World Cup

The 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup took place in Australia and New Zealand between July 20 and August 20. This year was the first time rights have been decoupled from the men’s tournament in most markets, although in the Americas, they remain part of a package until 2026. Rights are licensed by FOX in the US, Globo in Brazil, and Bell Media in Canada. For the next renewal, FIFA may decouple the rights in these markets as well. In May, FIFA threatened a blackout of the Women’s World Cup in the Big Five European markets after saying that offers from broadcasters had been too low: “As little as 1% of the fees they paid for the men’s World Cup.” Deals were eventually found, with the BBC and ITV picking up the rights in the UK; ARD and ZDF in Germany; France Televisions and M6 in France; Rai in Italy; and RTVE in Spain.

Ed Ludlow, Senior Data Analyst, Media and Entertainment, Omdia. Read the full report here.


Most Recent