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The Athletic teams up with Google to expand women’s sport coverage (SportsPro Insider)
  •     The Athletic will create more news and in-depth features
  •     The New York Times acquired publication for US$550m in January

Digital sports publication The Athletic is partnering with Google on a multiplatform project to support and expand its coverage of women’s sport through additional resources and technology.

Google will provide The Athletic with the financial support to hire more journalists, allowing the media organisation to increase the volume and variety of its professional women’s basketball and soccer coverage.

Women's sport gains 4m UK fans in 2022, says study (SportsPro Insider) Women’s sport has attracted an estimated four million more fans in the UK over the past year, according to a YouGov study commissioned by public service broadcaster the BBC. 

USA Triathlon launches a nonprofit NIL collective focused on funding female triathletes (Gist Sports, The)

A gold medal contender just entered the name, image and likeness (NIL) space. The national governing body for triathlon, USA Triathlon, launched Watch Us Thrive last week, a nonprofit NIL collective focused on scoring funds for the country’s female triathletes and boosting the sport’s popularity.

The details: Donors interested in supporting women triathletes can contribute through a portal on Team USA's site, with the money going to student-athletes who promote the competition on socials. Beneficiaries of the fund will be selected by USA Triathlon and USA Triathlon Foundation, and will receive 90% of donations.

The context: Triathlon isn’t a heavy-hitter in the college sports landscape — only 40 U.S. schools sponsor varsity women’s triathlon, and the sport isn’t fully under the NCAA umbrella. It also did not rank in the top 25 sports for compensation or activities in NIL’s first year.

Zooming out: Anyone and everyone is trying to enter the NIL space in unconventional ways, USA Triathlon included. Donor-driven collectives are usually organized by fans and wealthy parties with local ties, so the governing body’s creative play could establish a precedent for supporting overlooked sports through fundraising.

  • USA Triathlon might not race to a spot on the podium, though. Two U.S. senators introduced a bill in September that would outlaw 501(3)(c) NIL collectives. Stay tuned.

TikTok is leaning into sports content, with women's sports at the center (Gist Sports, The)

Sports may be trendier on TikTok than a Negroni sbagliato. In a Thursday interview, the company’s global head of sports Harish Sarma revealed that TikTok is leaning into sports content — and that women’s sports are central to its strategy.

The sponsorships: TikTok became the sleeve sponsor of the NWSL’s Portland Thorns last year, scored the naming rights to Women’s Six Nations in January and sponsored July’s UEFA Women’s Euro. The platform also counts MLB’s New York Yankees and the NHL as partners.

  • In addition to logo-slapping, TikTok has livestreamed multiple vertically shot sporting events and created content using archival footage. For the Six Nations, the social media app worked with TikTok Rugby Creators to capture content from each team.

The numbers: From March 2021 to March 2022, 12 of the top 25 fastest growing brands on TikTok were sports teams or leagues. The app’s overall appeal to women is mirrored in the sports world — 47% of ESPN’s TikTok followers are women, significantly higher than the 20 to 30% it counts as followers on other social platforms.

The strategy: In the interview, Sarma highlighted sports in TikTok’s user acquisition approach because of the industry’s unique ability to tap into both culture and entertainment. Working with rising properties like women’s sports organizations is the brand’s economically savvy way of experimenting in a space with lower advertising costs.

  • The move to inject marketing dollars into women’s sports is part of TikTok’s attempt to champion inclusion and “empower teams to go out there and actually secure the kind of commercial outcomes that they want,” per Sarma. You love to hear it.

The context: The platform is heading towards usurping counterparts for social media dominance. Ten percent of U.S. adults now regularly receive news from TikTok, including 26% of those under 30. It could also strengthen its foothold following Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter, which may provoke users and brands into switching platforms.

  • TikTok does have its own problems, though. The app is facing bipartisan scrutiny from U.S. politicians over China’s access to data and is in security negotiations with the Biden administration.

Zooming out: In a frayed media landscape, sports continue to be the constant for TV and social media companies to engage users. While broadcast companies spend big on tried-and-true men’s sports, TikTok’s innovative promotion of up-and-coming women’s sports should lay the blueprint for building an inclusive base. Ooh, stunning.

Women’s Sports Network Officially Launches (SportsTravel) FAST Studios has launched the Women’s Sports Network with support from 12 professional women’s sports leagues and federations including the WNBA, LPGA, U.S. Ski & Snowboard and Athletes Unlimited, providing comprehensive coverage of the women’s sports scene in the United States and beyond.
“The launch of the Women’s Sports Network is a huge and long-awaited win for female athletes and fans of women’s sports,” said WNBA Champion and reigning MVP A’ja Wilson of the Las Vegas Aces. “We know that fans want to see more women’s sports and the Women’s Sports Networks creates a unique platform for our fans to connect with the sports they love in ways that haven’t been available to us as female athletes.”

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