Primetime Ready – Women’s Sports Coverage Case

Primetime Ready - Women's Sports Coverage Case

Story and cover of Diethel Larsen.

This story is part of the March 2022 issue of the Daily Universe.


Odichi Alexander, a bowler for the James Madison University softball team, was a key player in the 2021 World College Women’s Championship (WCWS). JMU had never competed in the World College Softball Championships before, but the team was on an upward trajectory, starting with no. A dismal record 25-24 in 2002 to a stunning 41-4 sprint and a gateway to the first world championship in 2021.

After her brilliant starring career, Google searched JMU More Than Kevin Durant, LeBron James and Devin Booker Together. They topped the list with an average viewing income of $1.2 million per game. This year, WCWS collected the two largest ESPN audiences since the NFL Draft in April 2021 with an average of two million viewers in the first two games.

To compare these impressive stats, the NCAA College World Series averaged just 755,000 last year — women’s games received 60 percent more views than those for men.

Odechi Alexander Monument to James Madison University. (Twitter James Madison Softball)

Despite the popularity of WCWS, it was not a priority for prime-time television executives. So why weren’t women given a better time slot and channel, or at least the same playing schedule as men? They had a week off from playing and some teams had to play with two heads, while the men’s teams got six days off and four more days to play.

Michael Meisner, Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies at the University of Southern California’s Dorncife College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences. Say it honestly. “Our analysis shows that men’s sports are the starter, main course, and dessert, and if women’s sports are involved, it seems misleading to ‘eat vegetables’ without the kind of bells, whistles and excitement they describe the men’s sports and athletes.”

Jennifer Rockwood, principal coach of Brigham Young University’s women’s soccer team, believes that “the more viewers, the more people who know about your players, what they do and how they are trying to better represent them…in helping the program and athletics in general. That’s huge. Also. This exposure only.All these reports are useful to us and our program.

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Rockwood believes that soccer coaches in general and other athletic coaches are “frustrated with the lack of coverage” of athletes.

Coaches, sports programmes, and broadcasters know the power of prime-time exposure. But that is exactly why its network coverage has dwindled.

Teegan Graham, initiator of the BYU women’s basketball team, whose master project examines gender inequality in NCAA sports, argues that men’s teams make significantly more money than women’s teams, but no one is ignoring the assumption and asking why.

Tegan Graham leads against San Diego. Graham is a junior in women’s basketball at Brigham Young University and a master’s student researching gender inequality in college athletics. (BYU photo)

Graham believes that a lot of that has to do with a system that encourages investment in men’s sports. Broadcasters focus too much on male mathematicians and their achievements in mathematics at the expense of female mathematicians, who historically have put women at a disadvantage. But things are changing now that math is tired of waiting in the shadows. They are ready for prime time.

During the height of the coronavirus outbreak, sports fans turned to women’s sports in record numbers. The Women’s National Football League (NWSL) and the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) saw the rankings rise during the 2020 pandemic, and were the only professional leagues that happened to them.

It wasn’t the NFL, the NBA, or the MLB – there were more viewers for two women’s sports leagues as consumers in the US and Canada were increasingly watching women at prime times.

Before the pandemic, the United States women’s soccer team made it to the Women’s Soccer World Cup in 2019, and the match was watched by an average of 15.6 million viewers in the United States. This is a 22% increase in viewership compared to the 2018 FIFA Men’s World Cup.

More and more people want to see them compete, search for these sports and spend time watching them. While it is not at its peak times, in some cases it attracts more male-dominated sports teams.

The women’s national team was in the World Cup – a moment where all sports teams compete in their own events (Superbowl, World Championships, NBA Finals, etc). It is a moment that brings out the best of the best and proves who the true heroes are, for a country and for the world. It is a proud moment for the winning country.

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USWNT has outlasted competitor after competitor and proven to be that champion team. Although they became world champions and deserved this moment in the spotlight, it was not given to them. Not only did the women’s team compete on the field, but also off the field against the Dutch national football team, taking part in the men’s CONCACAF Gold Cup final and the men’s Copa America final for a spot on prime-time television.

Megan Rapinoe plays for the USWNT. (Image courtesy of Ira L. Black- Corbis/Getty Images)

Despite competition from male sporting events, women’s games have continued to attract more viewers on Fox Sports and social media platforms this year and in the past, and have reportedly brought in more profits for the NFL than in the past three years of men’s games. Looks like a team is ready to take over your primetime TV slot without any problem.

In addition, the best-selling American women’s soccer jerseys for men or women of a single season are sold on Nike.com.

As the head coach of the Georgia Tech women’s basketball team, “rather than cover it up,” Neil Fortner said at a press conference, [women’s basketball] Sport is like a segment cost, and the NCAA needs to see it because many are increasingly looking at it: as an opportunity for growth.”

Women’s basketball and football teams, both at the professional and team levels, managed to grow the business not only of broadcasters, but also of Olympic athletes.

What are the most watched Olympic sports on TV? Is it a male or female dominated event? Would it be surprising to know that it’s actually all women’s sports together? US women’s teams “live 58.4% of the medals…it also set a television record, accounting for 59.1% of NBC’s prime-time coverage.”

Interest in women’s athletics is increasing. The masses thirst for sports entertainment, especially women. Two associate professors from New York University, Brie Newland and Ted Heinock, surveyed the female sports fan base and stated that 46% of women were “interested” or “very interested in the sport, 41% interested”. in watching live sports events and 39% are interested in watching sports on TV.

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Sports fans want to see these female players compete and create a fan base that didn’t exist before. Since 2012, the viewership of athletics has grown and is still going strong.

The growth and growing popularity of women’s sports begs the question: If women’s sports consistently attract large numbers of viewers, why aren’t primetime given alongside or instead of men?

The NCAA claims that women’s teams lose more money than they bring in. But this is not entirely true.

The Washington Post reported that “Between 2016 and 2019, the women’s championship averaged nearly four million viewers, nearly twice that of the baseball and softball series, the second-most-watched league in the group.”

And despite what the NCAA says, the women’s championship could generate nearly $20 million annually for ESPN and ESPN2, according to The Washington Post.

Networks has a treasure chest that you haven’t yet opened in women’s athletics. Women’s sports are an untapped source of income. Athletes get access to their skills and talents that they have developed over the years, just like their male peers. They are able to perform at a peak that is not often available to them. For fans, especially the female fan base, they can encourage and support female athletes and strong women.

The reputation of Odicci Alexander and her fellow Dukes in the College Girls’ World Series put them on the podium, displaying both feminine and athletic strength. These athletes, along with countless female athletes, made their way to the top in prime times without much help.

(James Madison University Athletics)

While many of the primetime women’s sports teams still don’t get the attention they deserve, they still attract a growing fan base. They’ve been competing for years to get to the top of their game, earning their shot as the main attraction: becoming the future players of prime-time television everywhere.

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