Women’s Super League: the chance for OOH to play a captain’s role

Women’s Super League: the chance for OOH to play a captain’s role

Route Research’s general manager explains how brands can make the most of the commercial opportunity around the spectators of the Women’s Super League.

This week sees the return to action of the Women’s Super League (WSL). Expectations of impending record-breaking audiences are high thanks to the continued success of the Lionesses.

Advertisers will clearly want to capitalise on the burgeoning popularity of the women’s game — and there’s a great opportunity here for out-of-home (OOH) to play a captain’s role.

Women’s sport (not just football) is more popular than ever. Over 20 million people watched some in the first three months of 2022 and this was before the Women’s Ashes, Six Nations and, of course, the World Cup.

Recent data from the Women’s Sport Trust shows that the average time spent watching women’s sport on TV was up 28% year-on-year.

Building on the success of the Lionesses

While other sports are growing, it is football that is really driving audiences. Our fellow JIC friends at Barb reported a peak of 14.8 million and an average audience of 13.3 million tuning in to watch the Lionesses in the Women’s World Cup Final.

This average was more than two million higher than the previous record for a women’s football match (when the Lionesses won the Euro Championship final in 2022) and was more than twice the number who watched the pinnacle of men’s club football, the Champions League Final, between Real Madrid and Liverpool.

The popularity and continued success of England’s Lionesses is infectious even for a card-carrying, mickle and muckle muttering Scotsman (this goodwill does not extend to the men’s team).

Following the Euro Championship win, record-breaking attendances for the Women’s Super League club games ensued (up 173% year on year). Further progress is anticipated again this season.

Increased media coverage is helping fuel the popularity

Media coverage of the league is more widespread than ever with BBC and The FA both streaming matches online and live games broadcast on Sky Sports and BBC Two.

Live attendances are also likely to grow with each WSL club playing at least one match in men’s team stadiums (which are typically larger than those generally used by the women’s teams).

Some clubs have signed up to multiple games at the bigger stadiums led by Arsenal (5) and Chelsea (4). The first of these happen on 1 October with live matches at the Emirates — where Arsenal take on Liverpool having already sold 45,000 tickets and later in the day at Stamford Bridge where Chelsea take on Tottenham in front of another 40,000.

The commercial opportunity for brands is real

So as the number of fans grow, so do the commercial opportunities. Brands are beginning to invest in the women’s game.

A 2022 Uefa report has suggested that European women’s football could have a commercial value in excess of £500m by 2033 — a six-fold increase of its current value.

And with new research showing that women’s sport brand partnerships can have positive effects on well-established brands such as Gucci, it’s clear to see why advertisers are keen to get in on the action.

The OOH opportunity

What better mechanism to do just this, than using out-of-home (OOH) to get brands close to the action by targeting advertising in close proximity to the grounds?

In this analysis below and using the interactive dashboard, we can explore what advertising opportunities exist within the vicinity of each of the grounds used by WSL teams this season and crucially what the typical weekly audience delivery would be using new data released by Route.

This data shows that within a 1km radius of all 19 stadiums that will be used in the WSL this season, there are a total of 1,549 OOH ad locations (including 117 digital screens). Together they are seen 90.3 million times each week. If we were to extend the catchment to 3km around the grounds, the audience swells to 1.1 billion impacts.

These ads span across roadside, underground, shopping centres, rail stations and supermarket formats.

Were we to take the 1km audience for every stadium used in every game of the season, then aggregate this by club as a proxy for probable success on the field (it’s a stretch, I know), then we could see Manchester United crowned champions at the end of the season, just pipping Chelsea and Liverpool to the title.

Advertisers wanting to get up close and personal with the women’s game should look towards Chelsea’s Kingsmeadow Stadium which offers the nearest inventory, a mere nine metres from the ground.

Those travelling to Broadfield Road in Brighton will have to look around a little further and wider to locate the closest OOH ad which is situated over 400 metres away.

And finally, for those with a particular team in mind, the data help identify the OOH environments that best serve each team… Want to tap into Rachel Daly’s top-scoring exploits with Aston Villa last year? Then you’ll be using roadside inventory around both Villa Park and the Bescot in Birmingham. Want to roll with the Champions Chelsea, then you have over 500 locations across roadside, underground and rail to choose from.  If, like me, you’re celebrating Alessa Russo’s close season move to Arsenal you can be targeting underground ads across North London.

No matter the team, OOH ads are on hand to help brands get closer to the action.

As the pre-match superstitions are completed, fans flock to the grounds and eagerly search for any hint of impending success on the field. And then they notice it. Right there in front of them. A large billboard with their new centre forward smiling back at them. It’s the solace they were after.

The confidence grows… It’s going to be a good season. Back of the net…


Euan Mackay is general manager at Route Research.

Adwanted UK is the trusted delivery partner for three essential services which deliver accountability, standardisation, and audience data for the out-of-home industry. Playout is Outsmart’s new system to centralise and standardise playout reporting data across all outdoor media owners in the UK. SPACE is the industry’s comprehensive inventory database delivered through a collaboration between IPAO and Outsmart. The RouteAPI is a SaaS solution which delivers the ooh industry’s audience data quickly and simply into clients’ systems. Contact us for more information on SPACE, J-ET, Audiotrack or our data engines.

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