The Future Is Female (for sports investment at least).

Last week, The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) announced a majority woman-founded group had secured the exclusive rights to bring a professional women’s soccer team to Los Angeles (for 2022). While the official name has yet to be released, the group has formally coined itself Angel City

Alexis Ohanian, who led the investment with his fund, Initialized Capital, said, “The free market is actually going to show that this has been undervalued for way too long by far too many people.” 

A week prior, private equity firm Bridgepoint were reported to have approached the FA about purchasing a ‘large minority stake’ in the Women’s Super League. 

So, what’s the hype? 

Well, Ohanian believes “This is where esports was five years ago, except these teams are far more marketable; the athletes are far more popular and have already transcended the sport and culture.” 

Here’s a few other reasons for the wider interest in investing in women’s ‘soccer’ (if you insist on calling it that);  

  • Viewing Figures – FIFA announced the 2019 Women’s World Cup viewing figures hit 1.12 billion. Comparatively, the 2018 men’s World Cup pulled in 3.572 billion. Despite this, the women’s tournament only received equivalent to 7.5% of the prize money of the men’s – it should have been closer to a third. 

  • Broadcast - In the US, CBS All Access is streaming matches of the NWSL Challenge Cup this summer, marking the first time NWSL games can be reliably seen on a major provider. BT Sport broadcast WSL games in the UK – and late last year a three-year media rights deal was struck with Sky Mexico and Scandinavian broadcaster NENT – the first time WSL will be broadcast overseas.

  • Fan Attendance - NWSL games rose more than 20% last season and WSL games were up 34% from the season before. (That's even without including games being held in bigger stadiums such as the North London derby and Merseyside derbies). 

As a result, media rights are likely rise and the sport will also drive greater commercial value from partnerships - culminating in higher league and franchise valuations in the future. In the words of Roger Mitchell, founder of Albachiara "you wanna invest cheaply and dominate a potentially global sport of immense size? It’s women’s football by a mile." 

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