Meet the Authors: Rebecca Hendel and Amy Painter

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Meet the authors: Amy Painter and Rebecca Hendel

Meet Rebecca Hendel and Amy Painter, the authors and masterminds behind the Women’s Sport Report from our sister company Endeavor Analytics. Drawing on their vast experience, Rebecca and Amy share their expert insights on the current position of women’s sport as well as future predictions and their impact on sports, teams, athletes and brands.  


What does your role at IMG & what does it entail? 

RH: I lead the Valuation team within Endeavor Analytics, working with properties and brands to value current and potential partnerships across sports and entertainment. Our job is to illustrate the value a partnership delivers to either aid in sales pitches for properties or help a brand to determine which partnerships they want to pursue. We primarily focus on larger partnerships, such as naming rights and jersey/kit positions, but also do a lot of work on portfolio-wide views for our brand clients. 


AP: I am a Senior Analyst within Endeavor Analytics, which is the insights and analytics division of Endeavor, supporting all the various business units within the company. I currently sit within the 160Over90 Strategy team in City Road; however, I have in the past leveraged our data and insights to support those within IMG, with projects ranging from understanding fans, category alignment for new sponsors, through to trends and reporting.  


How do women’s sports fans contribute to a more desirable target demographic for sponsors, and what benefits does this offer? 

RH: There’s a lot of overlap in fandom between men’s and women’s sports fans because, after all, most are just sports fans. However, 60% of women’s sports fans have kids under 18, and are 1.6X more likely to have children watch sports with them. That allows sponsors to target families and children more effectively.   

Women’s sports fans are also more receptive to sponsors than men’s sports fans – they’re 6% more likely to consider a sponsor over its competitors, 5.8% more likely to engage with the sponsor, and nearly 8% more likely to see the sponsor as integral to the team/league’s development. Additionally, a study by The Office for Women in Sport and Recreation in Australia found that for every $1 spent by corporate sponsors in women’s sports sponsorship, they see an average return of $7.29. 


What impact does the Women’s World Cup’s global reach have on catalyzing pivotal moments for women’s sports, drawing attention from millions of viewers who did not tune into the men’s World Cup? 

AP: The Women’s World Cup was a significant milestone last year and, it was exciting to see the number of records broken from attendance to viewership globally. The decision by FIFA to unbundle the commercial rights, while a risk, was great in allowing the opportunity for partners to align specifically to the women’s event and the values that are unique to the women’s game. This was certainly a catalyst in increasing visibility and excitement ahead of the tournament. I also believe this supported the expansion in reach for the Women’s World Cup, encouraging a broader uptake among new audiences, specifically those who did not watch the men’s tournament. Post event, and within the women’s sport report, we’ve taken a deeper look into understanding women’s sport fandom, where the uniqueness of this audience shone through. We’ve seen that they skew more female, are younger and are more likely to have younger children. With better insight into this fandom – specifically the distinction from fans of men’s sports – the doors are open for new and emerging categories of brands, which should increase investment, visibility and hopefully continue to draw in new audiences.  


How does the correlation between broadcasting women’s sports and increased viewership impact future broadcasting deals? 

RH: All of the increased viewership is just proving what experts have been saying for years – sports fans want coverage of women’s sports and it’s not a just a trend.  We’re already seeing huge new broadcasting deals for women’s sports – the NWSL’s new deal (negotiated by IMG ) was a 40X increase in rights fees on their previous broadcast deal. The NCAA also recently signed a deal with ESPN (also negotiated by IMG) that includes the rights to 40 championships across men’s and women’s sports for an increase of more than 300% over the previous deal.  This guarantees that national championships for women’s basketball, gymnastics, and volleyball will air on ABC – a national broadcaster with immense reach. 

These long-term investments by broadcasters are ensuring that coverage for women’s sports will be accessible for years, allowing the sports to continue gaining momentum and become mainstream stays in our sports watching universe. 

Broadcasters aren’t signing these deals for charity. It’s a business decision and they’ve been seeing how much revenue they can generate selling ad inventory. For instance, Disney reported selling off a significant portion of their NCAA Women’s Basketball tournament inventory during over 7 months before the tournament tipped off – including signing on more than 40 new sponsors and 7 new categories. 


What are the potential long-term benefits of increasing investment in women’s sports, and what are the projections for its future trajectory? 

AP: We’ve seen major growth in investment within women’s sport over the past five years. The past year alone has shown a variety of benefits for athletes, fans, and even sponsors. We are, however, especially on a global level, nowhere near where we need to be in terms of investment in women’s sport. Women account for 40% of sports professionals globally, yet only receive 4% of sports media coverage. The demand is there, we’ve seen this in the past 12 months with records in viewership and engagement, including a 131% year-on-year increase in women’s sport viewing in the UK alone. The current state of women’s sport still presents less compensation and prize money for female athletes compared to male athletes, and there is a lack of gender-specific policies and programs, limited media coverage, and even lack of dedicated infrastructure and facilities. All of which can be addressed through further investment in women’s sport both at government level and through brand-level sponsorships such as Ally’s 50/50 pledge.  

Ultimately, the brand uplift and benefits when sponsoring women’s sport have already shone through and with forecasts such as British women’s sport expected to generate £1bn by 2030, we should continue to expect companies all looking to get their share.  



In what ways do engaged female fans on social media offer benefits, and how does this affect sponsorship strategies? 

RH: Social media is a mainstay of advertising these days, so being able to offer highly engaged followers is a strong selling point for women’s sports teams. Engagement metrics are the only surefire way to showcase not just how many people are seeing the content, but how people are interacting with it and their thoughts or perceptions. Engagement also provides a great way to understand what type of content resonates the most with fans and, therefore, provides a great platform for sponsor integration. 

Followers who are engaging with social posts are demonstrating a higher level of interaction with the channel, and typically represent a more loyal fan base who are going to be supportive of brands supporting their team or league. 


Do you see brands preferring to work with female athletes over their male counterparts, driven by the value they bring, as evidenced in reports, especially within sports like tennis? 

AP: I think for brands, it’s important to understand what they want to achieve from a partnership and in particular who they want to reach. As we’ve seen there is significant value to be generated through partnerships with female athletes, but there are definitely nuances to this. What companies and brands need to avoid is partnering with female athletes because they think it’s the right thing to do. As we’ve seen, 57% of those in the UK agree that brands that sponsor any type of women’s sport should invest in the grassroots level of the game, while 44% feel more positively about the sponsoring brand when the sponsorship addresses the inequality of opportunities provided to women and girls in grassroots sport. Younger generations in particular, are craving authenticity from brands. So those that can tap into these expectations and preferences through their partnerships with female athletes are likely to generate the greatest returns. I think the other key element is understanding the differences between fanbases. It’s something key in knowing whether an athlete is a right fit for your brand.  


With a significant broadcasting deal worth $116 million, how does cricket showcase the potential for growth in women’s sports over the next five years? 

RH: This deal jumpstarted the Women’s India Premier League, not only providing a media rights deal but also funding for the five first franchises in the league. Even though the league is just starting out, this deal propels the league to be one of the most valuable in world cricket. Similar to the broadcast deals for NWSL and the NCAA, it just continues to showcase the investment the whole world is making in women’s sports. The first season of the league has been broadcast globally, including key markets like the U.K., Australia, the U.S., South Africa, New Zealand, Malaysia, and China. Just a few days ago, Sky Sports secured the rights to broadcast both the men’s and women’s Indian Premier League until 2027, providing even more global exposure for the WIPL for the long-term. 

I think the next few years will continue to see massive growth numbers for women’s sports globally, but the ultimate goal for the future is to actually see slowing growth because the leagues have become so big.  


Quick Fire Questions 

What song do you have on repeat?  

RH: Not a specific song, but I can’t stop listening to anything by Reneé Rapp. 

AP: Anything by Cleo Sol!  


What’s your favourite sporting event in the calendar?  

RH: I think it probably changes, but I always love watching the Olympics. 

AP: It has to be Wimbledon!  


Favourite movie?  

RH: You can’t tell me Pretty Woman isn’t a perfect movie. 

AP: The Parent Trap.