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Women in Football: NFL needs to get this correct to women as fans

Women in Football: NFL needs to get this correct to women as fans

According to the NFL, roughly 45 percent of its fans are women, and it would like that number to be higher. We’re seeing more girls playing the sport, which is one way to get and retain followers. Two years ago, a 16-year-old female quarterback in Florida threw a touchdown pass, believed to be the first scoring pass from a girl in the state’s prep history.

The NFL, despite its considerable ratings and record profits, isn’t doing enough to keep those female fans. Or, maybe, any of its fans. From how it handles domestic violence incidents to concussions and CTE, there are problems.

As to the negative headlines around a handful of players embroiled in domestic violence cases that could turn off female fans: “Football has 1,800 players. It’s a big, broad sport. Whatever happens in society, happens in football,” NFL Chief Marketing Officer Dawn Hudson said. “Part of what our fans expect in the NFL is we are trying to not hide from things that happen in life and use our platform off the field to make things better.”

Tina Holmes, Minnesota Vikings Chief of Staff, is one of more than 100 female executives – vice president level or above – employed by the NFL or one of its 32 teams.

Women now make up nearly half of the NFL’s fan base with 86 million tuning in last season. Women also are occupying more executive offices in the NFL

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Women are Pro Football’s Most Important Fan Base

Women have become pro football’s most important fan base.​

  • Female NFL viewership overall is up 26 percent, compared to an 18 percent rise for men.
  • On the most recent Superbowl Sunday, female viewership rose 15 percent, compared to a rise of 10 percent for men.
  • There has been a 25 percent increase in Sunday Night Football viewing by women, compared to 10 percent by men.
  • Women also make up 20 percent of fantasy-football players.

The league saw women as crucial to profitable lines of licensed merchandise. Women make or influence 85 percent of disposable-income purchasing decisions for the NFL.

According to Nielsen, recent Super Bowls have logged higher female viewership than the Oscars, Grammy's and Emmys combined. Super Bowl XLVIII, during which advertisers paid $4 million for 30 seconds of air time, was the most-watched TV program for women this year, with 45 million female viewers.

“Sunday Night Football” ranked first among women ages 18 to 49 for the first time last season, and Fox said its female football viewing audience had hit a record high. Women, and the companies who depend on them, helped NFL revenue top a record $9.5 billion last year, and Nielsen data shows women have grown to represent more than a third of the league’s average viewership.

Keeping these women spending has become a chief goal of the NFL expanded merchandising and sponsored spreads in women’s magazines. Women make up an estimated 45 percent of the NFL’s more than 150 million American fans and have become perhaps pro football’s most valuable players. Female fans, loved by advertisers, represent the league’s biggest opportunity for growth.

The NFL “can’t afford to lose their female fan base.