Golf Majors Seek Boost In Female Coverage

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  • LPGA, USGA partner with SheIS to promote female empowerment through women’s sports.
  • Female sports account for only 4% of sports media coverage and 1% of the sponsorship market.
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Photo Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The LPGA Tour and USGA have partnered with SheIS, an organization centered around promoting female empowerment through women’s sports. Centered around the 75th anniversary of the U.S. Women’s Open in June, it is SheIS’s first foray in golf. 

The partnership will seek to increase the amount of media coverage and corporate sponsorship dedicated to women’s sports. A recent study from the University of Minnesota shows that although females represent 40% of all sports participation, female sports receive only 4% of all sports media coverage. From a business standpoint, only 1% of women sports account for the sponsorship market, wrote the Irish Examiner.

“This is an alignment in terms of how we are approaching fan engagement, the focus and desire to elevate women in that conversation, and the overall objectives around storytelling,” Caiti Donovan, co-founder, and chief marketing officer of SheIS, said. 

SheIS’s partnerships with both the LPGA and USGA will focus on digital marketing and experiential efforts around tournaments and major championships. While still in the planning stage, the USGA is targeting the U.S. Women’s Open in Houston on June 1 as a key event, Chief Brand Officer Craig Annis said.

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To commemorate the U.S. Women’s Open 75th anniversary, the USGA will be inviting 44 of its living champions to this year’s edition, Annis said. The USGA and longtime corporate partner Rolex are broadcasting the tournament commercial-free on Fox and Fox Sports. 

Uninterrupted coverage will also be seen across a number of USGA championships in 2020, Annis said. 

“It’s great for fans because they get to see golf-related content nonstop during the broadcast,” Annis said. “In terms of being able to deliver a message to broader audiences, it also gives us a platform to tell rich stories about the players, about the championship, and the history.”

In 2019, the LPGA began working with SheIS on numerous female-driven campaigns. One of them, the #WomenWorthWatching initiative launched during the US Tennis Open and garnered nearly 500 million impressions and 4.2 million engagements across all social media channels, Donovan said. 

Other collaborations between the LPGA and SheIS included the STEM Meets Sports content series that the latter unveiled with the Lyda Hill Foundation in October. That event saw several LPGA professional golfers be spotlighted by SheIS about their interest in areas like math and science.

“That’s the kind of storytelling that we would not necessarily have done on our own at the LPGA, but with the broader collective [of SheIS], it creates a much more cohesive story to feature different sides of our athletes,” Roberta Bowman, the LPGA’s chief brand and communications officer, said. 

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As SheIS gets deeper into 2020, Donovan sees multiple routes for growth. Outside of the LPGA and USGA championships, SheIS will be involved with the 2020 Summer Olympics, which will be held in Japan.

Donovan is also excited to work with the LPGA and USGA on its amateur fanbases. The former has its own LPGA Amateur Golf Association, and the latter hosts annual tournaments like the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball, U.S. Women’s Amateur, U.S. Girls’ Junior, and the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur.

Making sure that SheIS’s impact touches more than just professional sports is what makes its relationships with the LPGA and USGA even more valuable, Donovan said.

“We’re looking at how we extend beyond the professional sports and bring in more of the total sports world into the work that we’re doing because, ultimately, all of those women are worth watching as well,” Donovan said. “The community-level engagement of these inspirational women – they might not be professional athletes, but they have incredible stories.”