Why do crypto companies think women’s sports are not a good investment?
To educate the public, crypto companies have turned to sports. The investment in male sports leagues has increased dramatically in recent years compared to women’s sports. For example, the FIFA World Cup is sponsored by the trading platform crypto.com, the Golden State Warriors of the National Basketball Association (NBA) are sponsored by crypto exchange FTX, and the Dallas Cowboys of the National Football League (NFL) are sponsored by financial services company blockchain.com.
However, while crypto companies have raced to expand their presence in male-dominated sports leagues, the space in women’s sports has not expanded as quickly. Is this because the crypto industry is dominated by men? Possibly. However, by collaborating with women‘s leagues, an industry that is rapidly expanding, the crypto economy has a huge opportunity to educate new fanbases.
Women’s sports received less than $1 billion in global sponsorships in 2020, while men’s and mixed sports received $467 billion (including Olympic and Grand Slam tennis events). This massive disparity is astounding, especially given that women’s sports in the United States alone have enormous returns and active fan engagement. Sponsorships in women’s sports have increased by 146 percent since 2018, according to a Nielsen report, indicating that there is significant momentum and a dedicated audience following women‘s leagues. Women’s sports fans are also 25% more likely to purchase sponsored products than men’s sports fans, adding to the widespread belief that women’s sports fans are fiercely loyal to their favorite athletes and teams.
These statistics, along with surveys indicating that sports fans have a better understanding of what cryptocurrencies are, make breaking into the female leagues even more important for the crypto industry. According to a Morning Consult poll from 2021, sports fans are twice as likely as non-sports fans to have some knowledge of Bitcoin or Ethereum, and three times as likely to say they are very familiar with the crypto ecosystem’s workings. Overall, 47% of respondents (sports fans) said they are very familiar with cryptocurrency, compared to 39% of US adults and 23% of non-sports fans.
When audiences and their awareness of the crypto industry are broken down, those who are loyal to “niche leagues,” such as women‘s leagues, follow the crypto industry more closely than those who actively follow the big four leagues: the NBA, NFL, National Hockey League, and Major League Baseball. According to the Morning Consult chart above, approximately 64 percent of respondents who identified as Women‘s National Basketball Association (WNBA) fans and 70 percent of Women‘s Tennis Association (WTA) fans were familiar with cryptocurrencies, compared to 52 percent of NBA (52 percent), NHL (52 percent), MLB (47 percent), and NFL (47 percent) fans (45 percent ). Women’s sports fans are more acquainted with the crypto industry than men’s league fans. Nonetheless, the crypto world, like other sports league sponsors, has not capitalized on the already familiar audience and growing popularity of women’s sports.
So, why hasn’t the crypto industry put more money into supporting women’s sports? Probably because the industry and major leagues are dominated by men. Even though there has been little engagement and sponsorship from crypto companies in women‘s leagues, some partnerships have paved the way.
Coinbase (COIN) and the WNBA have teamed up to educate fans about the cryptocurrency ecosystem. The Seattle Storm, a four-time WNBA champion, is one of Coinbase’s partners. The collaboration is unique in the space because it is the first crypto sponsorship in the WNBA franchise, a league that has grown in popularity. According to Jessica Williams, Coinbase’s director of partnerships, “women’s sports are full of change makers, disruptors, and first movers.” They’re used to facing opposition while still moving forward and creating something new. That ethos is true to crypto and central to Coinbase values, so having the brand associated with women’s sports is a great cultural fit.