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Caroline FitzgeraldJanuary 24, 2024 at 11:25 AM7 min read

Our 10 Favorite Business Wins for U.S. Women’s Sports in 2023

A record-setting year for women’s sports has set the industry up for unprecedented success in 2024.

jACfOHifUvga0gLgydcmwoamQEH4gsB0tGBW5n18Source: Nebraska Huskers

2023 will go down in history as an absolutely glass-shattering year for women’s sports. It seems like every day this year, there was a new record set, new investments made, and droves of new support flowing into women’s sports. To put a bow on what was a truly incredible year, here is a list of our favorite business moments that U.S. women’s sports experienced in 2023. (And feel free to use these examples in 2024 to continue making the business case for creating more equity in sports.)

1. 92,003 fans attended a Nebraska Volleyball game and set a new world record for the most attended women’s sporting event in history.

When you think of the old adage “a picture is worth a thousand words” it’s hard to not think of this picture of Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Nebraska on August 30, 2023. That night, 92K fans packed into Nebraska’s men’s football stadium for a Nebraska vs. Omaha women’s volleyball game, and in doing so, took the attendance record for women’s sporting events to new heights. (IN case you were curious, the previously recognized world record was 91,648 fans in an UEFA Champions League match between Barcelona and Wolfsburg played in 2022 at Camp Nou in Barcelona, Spain. 

2. Google launched an initiative to address its search engine bias against women’s sports by adjusting its SEO.

Google’s announcement in March might not have a record-breaking number or an iconic image attached to it, but the move was a GIANT step forward for creating gender equity in sports. Per our friends at The Gist, in addition to Google’s adjusted search engine optimization, the information boxes at the top of their results pages will include expanded coverage of 380 women’s sports leagues. And The Gist also pointed out that since Google has a market share of 92.24%, it’s essential that the billions of users who search through the platform find accurate coverage and information about women’s sports. A strong argument could be made that this is the most important business move made in 2023 to create equity in sports media information sharing & coverage. 

3. Deloitte released a projection that women’s elite sports will generate $1.28 billion in global revenue in 2024 - surpassing the $1 billion mark for the first time in history.

All doubts around the value proposition of women’s sports are being left behind in 2023. In 2024, we have a BILLION (literally, a billion) reasons to believe in the business viability and growth potential of women’s sports. (P.S. Want to read more about this record-breaking projection and what it entails? Check-out our latest article that breaks it down here.

deloitte-uk-pr-nov-inline1 (2)Source: Deloitte

4. A record 9.9 Million tuned in to watch the NCAA Women’s March Madness Final. 

Since the NCAA Women’s & Men’s March Madness tournaments is among the most covered and talked about sporting events in the U.S., it made waves across the entire country when the women’s final between Iowa and LSU drew 9.9 million TV viewers making it the most-viewed NCAA women’s basketball game on record. The game set the tone early in the year for what would become an entire year of broken records in women’s sports. 

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Source: Getty Images

5. Billie Jean King Enterprises and leaders from the Los Angeles Dodgers partnered to invest in women’s hockey and create the Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL).

In June, a new and unified professional women’s hockey league was established in North America to create a home for the best players in the world to compete. The league is backed financially by Mark and Kimbra Walter and is led by a Board of Directors that includes Billie Jean King, Ilana Kloss, and Los Angeles Dodgers President Stan Kasten, and Dodgers Senior Vice President of Business Strategy Royce Cohen. The PWHL has set professional women’s hockey up for long-term, sustainable success for decades to come. 

6. The Kansas City Current sold-out of season tickets for the 2024 NWSL regular season at CPKC Stadium - which is their dedicated stadium and the first stadium in the world that was built specifically for professional women’s sports.

This is literally the perfect case study to prove that, “If you build it, they will come.” In the case of the KC Current, they’re literally building it, and as a result, the fans are literally lining up (in the thousands) to come. 

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Source: KC Current

7. 2 billion viewers tuned in to watch the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

This is arguably the most powerful case study ever for women’s soccer and has sparked an incredible movement of investment into U.S. women’s soccer. This alone proves that billions of people care about women’s sports across the globe. Thanks to the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, the days of saying that there is “no audience for women’s soccer” are officially over. 

8. The IOC approved the addition of 5 new sports to the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, including softball, flag football, and lacrosse.

The addition of these women’s sports to the 2028 Olympic games not only provides these sports a massive global platform to connect with new fans, but it also provides women athletes with a significant opportunity to compete for one of the highest honors in sports. This move was a huge step forward in the fight to create more opportunities for women in softball, football, and lacrosse. (P.S. Read more about this and the inevitable rise of women’s lacrosse here.)

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Source: International Olympic Committee

9. A valuation of the Angel City Football Club (ACFC) revealed that the club has a $180M valuation - making it likely that the club is the most valuable women’s sports franchise in the world.

In October, Sportico published a list of all 2023 NWSL team valuations. ACFC topped the list, with the Chicago Red Stars having the lowest valuation at $40M. The takeaway here? Today’s price is not tomorrows. The price to be an owner in professional women’s sports goes up by the minute.

10. 23 women were included in SportsPro’s list of the top 50 most marketable athletes for 2023.

This is a particularly interesting milestone because for the first time, SportsPro used qualitative research AND quantitative marketability measurements to determine their final rankings around athlete marketability. Per SportsPro, “This year’s 50 Most Marketable Athletes list follows the most comprehensive assessment of athlete marketability we’ve ever undertaken in the 14-year history of SportsPro’s annual ranking.” So basically, when a comprehensive, 360 degree approach is taken to measuring marketability in sports, the marketability of women athletes is on par (if not greater in some instances) than with male athletes. To that we say, “numbers don’t lie.” 

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Source: Robin Alam/ISI Photos/Getty Images

Now let’s be honest - this is definitely an incomplete list. While these are some of our favorite women’s sports business moves in 2023, there are SO many more moves that we could have included.

 

The fact that this list is incomplete is an indicator in-and-of-itself of just how much growth women’s sports experienced in 2023 alone.

 

So to close-out this article (and this year!) we leave you with two questions: 

  1. What were YOUR favorite women’s sports business moves of 2023?
  2. What business moves do you want to see happen in women’s sports in 2024?

    Drop your thoughts in the comments - and let’s keep pushing for even more great business results for women’s sports in 2024. 

 


About Caroline Fitzgerald
Caroline Fitzgerald (she/her) is a contributing writer for Parity and the CEO & Founder of GOALS - a women's sports marketing consultancy & media platform. Caroline launched GOALS in 2020 after recognizing that there was an opportunity to help women's sports teams sign more sponsorship deals - and help brands see the business value around investing in women's sports. GOALS also produces the leading women's sports business podcast - The Business Case for Women's Sports, which is presented by Ally. For more information on GOALS, visit https://goals-sports.com or follow on InstagramLinkedInFacebookX (formerly Twitter) and Threads


About Parity
Minority-founded in 2020, Parity's mission is to close the gender income and opportunity gap in professional sports. By developing high-impact collaborations between brands, professional women athletes and their fans, Parity has proudly put more than $3.5 million in the pockets of women athletes, attracting dozens of brands to the movement in the process. The platform offers connections to more than 1000 women athletes from 75+ sports, including well over 200 Olympians and Paralympians. For more information on how to tap into the rapidly rising influence and popularity of women athletes, visit https://paritynow.co or follow us on InstagramLinkedInFacebookX (formerly Twitter) and Threads

 


 

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Caroline Fitzgerald

Caroline Fitzgerald is a contributing writer for Parity and the CEO & Founder of GOALS - a women's sports marketing consultancy & media platform. After launching GOALS in 2020, Caroline has quickly become a force for good and thought leader in the women's sports space.

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