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Exclusive: YouGov Sport’s Ned Morris On 2021 Women In Sport Global Report

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ouGov Sport recently released their 2021 Women In Sport Global Report, and YouGov Sport managing director for Australia and New Zealand, Ned Morris, spoke to Ministry of Sport about the findings.

Founded in 2010 as SMG Insight, YouGov Sport is an integrated division of YouGov and provides data and insights to various sporting leagues including the AFL, NRL, and Netball Australia.

Ned Morris told Ministry of Sport it’s important to manage an even spread of diversity when it came to researching.

“We’ve got over 200,000 Australians that we’re asking questions to on a daily basis,” Morris said.

“It’s a very strong and robust sample that we work with and all of our insights are updated on a daily basis into our daily platforms.

“What YouGov sport does is provide data and insights to back up any decision.

“What we would say to any major organisation or brand involved in sport or sponsorship is make sure that you use data and insights before you do any of your investments,” he said.

Morris says the recent report shows an increase in popularity in women sports with 26% of Australians actively following women sports, ranking third amongst the 12 countries researched.

“I would definitely say that this clearly shows the opportunity to get on board with a growth property,” Morris told Ministry of Sport.

“The data and insights are all pointing to a strong trajectory in the right direction,” he said.

Morris lauded the AFL and NRL for their management of their women leagues and how they use data to make decisions regarding their future growth.

“[The AFL and NRL] make all the right decisions based off that they don’t do anything without insights,” Morris said.

“Those two, if you’re talking about organisations that are actually creating leagues pretty much from scratch in the last five to ten years, they’re the two that stand out.

“Obviously there’s been a very strong netball and basketball presence for a really long time but I think if you look at all those sports in isolation it’s a different story in terms of awareness, understanding and the strength of their fanbases.

“But if you look at AFLW or the NRLW, they haven’t been around for any amount of time closely comparable to those large sports.

“If you look at the rate they’re growing and the correlating participation of women playing sports in Australia, I think they’re growing so fast that they’re in such an amazing standalone proposition.

“It’s something to be very excited about in the Australian sports landscape in general,” he said.

Amongst those surveyed, women tennis players showed the highest awareness amongst Australians with Serena Williams at the highest with 67%, followed by Maria Sharapova (56%), Ashleigh Barty (53%), Jelena Dokic (43%), and Naomi Osaka (41%).

Women’s WTA Tennis was also the highest drawcard in Australian sport ranking first, with the AFLW in second.

On the findings, Morris said: “You’ll find that tennis creates the most high-profile women athletes in the world.”

“Seven of the top ten highest paid women athletes in the world are tennis players.

“It’s the global scope, there’s no off-season, there’s great opportunities to promote these athletes on an ongoing basis.

“I was actually surprised the results showed that Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova had a higher awareness than Ash Barty.

“We’re also still seeing Jelena Dokic at a 43% awareness level which I think is due to her getting into commentary around the Australian open nowadays.

“But she hasn’t played a professional game in over a decade.

“But I think you’ll start to see that change in these local female leagues as they continue to grow,” he said.

Interestingly, 17% of Australians surveyed had no awareness of any women athletes in the world.

However, Morris says it isn’t a concern amongst brands but rather an opportunity to focus and hone their own fan bases.

“You have to take into account that not everyone on the panel and not everyone out of any sample will follow sport,” Morris said.

“One of the things that a lot of rights holders and sports clubs do when utilising our data and analysis is to focus on and understand their fan bases.

“The way our subscriptions work is that you could make any profile you want and you can deep dive into understanding that demographic.

“One of the key things is that 17% don’t actually have an awareness of any athletes in Australian sport, what we do then is understand that demographic of 17%.

“There is a high likelihood they’re not following any sport due to the fact they don’t have any awareness of female athletes.

“It’s key in understanding those demographics because if you take a Tennis Australia or a grand prix corporation, what they’re doing is trying to understand that demographic and understand that if they’re not going to sport, what are they going to?

“What are they spending their money on?

“They use that insight to figure out what sort of event they should host around the sporting calendar.

“There’s now concerts, ground passes, beverages, etc. at these events” he said.

If you wish to view the full 2021 Women In Sport Global Report from YouGov Sport, click here.