Discover more from Unofficial Partner
Women's football should be reassuringly expensive; Token women, male allies and stepping stones; Fear of the Daily Mail; If Eddie Hearn ran rugby; The Big Idea meets AI; The Moya Dodd Pod; UP.com pt2
Overthinking the sports business, for money
Women’s football should be reassuringly expensive
A slight build on something Moya Dodd mentioned this week.
It’s about confidence in the product.
Moya Dodd: I think they (FIFA) do know that it's ripe for commercialization and I think putting in place a women's football commercial programme, that's dedicated to women's football, is a good idea. And to unbundle the rights is a good idea to test those markets as well.
But I think it's a bit rich to be scolding the broadcasters for underpaying because when you look at the history, FIFA itself never put any value on the women's rights.
It (FIFA) sold them as part of a bundle and then attributed all of that value to the men's World Cup. So actually, it has for decades trained those commercial partners and broadcast rights buyers to overvalue men's football and undervalue women's football.
Educating the audience to undervalue your own product.
That’s the opposite of marketing. Anti-marketing.
It’s not just FIFA. (And tbf, the counter is that the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada was a key milestone in terms of audience growth).
By your price we shall judge you
Price is a deeply revealing indicator of confidence in product.
Look at the difference in the price of Category 1 tickets for the men’s and women’s UEFA Euros Finals 2020 & 2022:
At the women’s Euros, 83% of all tickets were priced at £25 or less, and under-16 tickets for 25 of 31 games priced at £5.
Ticketing revenue for the tournament was £9.3m, from 575k tickets sold; average ticket was about £16.
Emma Hayes keeps making the same point about ticket prices in the WSL.
'I think the product is too cheap league-wide,' she said. 'The fact that we charge £9 — it's far too cheap. It doesn't have to be ridiculous money but we've got to value it, the players are full-time professionals and it's a quality product.
Now, let’s throw in what we’re learning about the audience for women’s football.
Moya Dodd again:
I have no quibble with an overdue correction to the longstanding undervaluation of women's sports fans. They are younger, funkier, more values driven, more loyal and more digital savvy than the average Joe six pack in the stands or on the couch
To that description, I’d throw in another adjective: Wealthier.
Or if we want to be classist: a bit posher.
We can cherry pick bits of audience research that backs this up.
I know there’s a race to create a better data set around the ‘how rich are women football fans’ question.
This is important work, because for now we’re stuck in the middle, between story and evidence.
But let’s just push it a stage further and make an assumption: Women’s football is a middle class game.
So, where’s the premium offer?
The Stella Artois position?
The upmarket niche. High end. Exclusive. Pricey.
Everyone bangs on about the need for the women’s game to make a virtue of its differences, rather than mirror the tropes of bloke’s football.
Men’s football is mass.
Women’s sport has a chance to be premium.
But premium is a state of mind.
It requires bullet proof confidence in the product.
In any other sector, we’d see a rush to bring premium brands to market.
Beyond Angel City, I don’t see them.
The stumbling blocks lie in other bits of sports marketing folklore, each of which is an incentive to drop price.
TV needs a crowd. To engage telly audiences, the games need to look proper, and that means capacity crowds.
The Sampling problem. The Women’s Sport Trust/Two Circles research this week encourages rights holders to get people in the door quickly.
Again, the implied conclusion is cheap entry.
Let’s call it FOD’M - Fear of the Daily Mail
Price is a toxic issue in football. The prevailing narrative is a variation of Rip-off Britain. Greedy bastards plundering the people’s game; Won’t anyone think of the children, but also buy that overpriced left back. Etc.
Big steps have been made in building awareness and audience for the women’s game.
The next phase is about building value.
Token women and the incentive to do nothing
FIFA and women, pt 2
I asked Moya Dodd about why she lost the vote to remain on the FIFA Executive Committee after four years of successful reform work on gender equality. (Famously, the woman who replaced her couldn’t name the current world champions).
Moya Dodd: There were a lot of people who would've been happy if I was just an adornment for the photos. I wasn't happy to be that because, you know, it's a long way from Australia to Zurich and if I'm gonna go that far that often, I wanted to do something.
But I was acutely aware that actually if I wanted to stay there for as long as possible, the best thing to do would be nothing.
That was certainly a better survival strategy than agitating on issues.
Male allies v Stepping stones
Radio Four’s Women’s Hour issued its women in sport power list.
Leah Williamson came out top. Interesting snippet here:
Unofficial Partner Big Idea Hall Of Fame
There’s a PhD to be written on the role of creativity in the era of artificial intelligence.
If Eddie Hearn ran rugby
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