Women’s sports rely on women viewers

White Ferns Photo: PHOTOSPORT/RNZ

Women need to watch women’s sport to make broadcasting it viable according to the boss of a New Zealand sports streaming service.

The head of Spark Sport Jeff Latch said broadcasters should promote and make women’s sport more accessible, but that was only possible if the audience numbers supported it.

Spark Sport has the rights for White Ferns matches in New Zealand as well as next year’s Rugby World Cup to be held in New Zealand.

Speaking online to Women In Sport Aotearoa Latch said Spark Sport was actively seeking the rights to broadcast women’s sports when they became available.

“Women also need to make sure that they watch if this is done,” he said.

“Everyone is focussed on audience sizes and that actually helps prime the pump as it were in terms of the more viewers that are watching a particular event then the easier it is to establish and get advertisers involved to get sponsors involved and it also means the broadcast rights have a higher value if they are delivering bigger audiences and so it is also partly beholden on women – and men – to make sure that they watch women’s sport when it is made available.

“Because if they don’t then it becomes a little bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy, so everyone needs to play their part in the ecosystem to make sure we go in this upwards spiral rather than a downwards spiral.”

Women’s sports rights have traditionally been part of a package deal with men’s sports rights but Latch said this was changing and he expected the trend to continue to grow.

“As the women’s competitions become bigger and they become more popular as there is more expanded coverage of the live events and of the people that are playing them, then that is absolutely where it is going.

“Examples of where that is happening now is it’s happening in cycling, it’s happening in basketball, it’s happening in football, it’s happening in motorsport, there are more and more women’s competitions that are being sold separately from the male equivalent.”

The rise of individual sports embracing their own streaming platforms Latch sees a positive rather than a threat to Spark Sport’s business model.

“There is going to come a point where most people we think don’t actually want to have their own subscription to NBA, NFL, UFC, premier league, and you can go on with all the sports, because most people that love sport like watching five to seven sports so most people don’t want to have five or seven different sporting apps which they have to jump in and out of to watch it.

“So our view is that we make it more convenient, we actually pull a lot of them together and it could be that we actually play or make access to some of those services via our own platform to make it easy for people.”

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