Canadian women’s professional sport market ripe for investment

By Frank Pingue

TORONTO (Reuters) – The Canadian women’s professional sport market is dramatically underserved and underdeveloped, making it ripe for investment with a low entry cost and high potential for significant long-term upside, a study published on Monday showed.


Canadian Women & Sport, a nonprofit that released the study, said investment would unlock a new era of growth and opportunity, bringing commercial and social benefits for decades.

“When we talk about a vibrant, thriving women’s sport marketplace that means teams and leagues in Canada, in markets that fans can consistently engage with,” Canadian Women & Sport CEO Allison Sandmeyer-Graves said in an interview.

“We need those teams and leagues here in Canada in order for fans to grab on to something beyond just one-off events.”

Women’s professional sport thrives around the world but investment in Canada has been slower than in the United States, Britain, Europe, and Australia, the report said. Several high-profile Canadian female athletes have no choice but to go to the United States or elsewhere if they want to play professionally.

Canada’s professional women’s sport market is worth C$150 million to C$200 million ($110.76 million and $147.68 million), the report said. It cited sponsorship and broadcasting revenues associated with Canadian women competing in the Olympics, revenue from standalone Women’s Tennis Association and Ladies Professional Golf Association events, and sponsorship deals for star women athletes.

The path to a vibrant market is through domestic leagues and teams instead of just large stand-alone events.

“There is enough talent to go around and once we create these opportunities I think the talent pipeline is also going to grow and it’s only going to get better and better over time,” said Sandmeyer-Graves.

The research shoots down biases that women’s sports are not as popular or worthy of the same investment in men’s professional sports.

“Those old ideas have held investors back and made it feel very risky to invest in women’s sport,” said Sandmeyer-Graves.

“But we are just getting all of these proof points globally and increasingly here in Canada that are giving people greater confidence that if they go for it the reward is going to be there.”

($1 = 1.3543 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Richard Chang)