Over 154 Years of Service to the Furniture Industry
 Furniture World Logo

Reaching Women - Part 3 -Sports TV

Furniture World Magazine


Which televised events reach your target audience of women?

On May 7, 1995, a startling event occurred. The Eastern conference semifinal NBA game between the Chicago Bulls and the Orlando Magic on that Sunday became the most-watched semifinal in NBA history. Drawing an estimated 40 million viewers and averaging a Nielsen rating of 12.2 with a 25 share, it not only represented a 5% increase over the previous season, but it was demonstrating the power of sports as part of our life. The NBA playoff games this year were up 11% over the previous year.

In October (to be seen between the 21st & 28th), Raycom will produce and distribute "Border War", a one hour syndication special about the college football rivalry between the University of Florida and the University of Georgia. Unusual that a syndicated program would be centered around sports? Not anymore.

This is the 21st year since Title IX has been the law of the land in sports. For those of you who have been hiding under a rock for the past decade, Title IX allowed women to participate in intercollegiate athletics the same as men. It allowed women the same privileges as men when it came to sports on campus. And because of it, high schools, middle schools and elementary schools put greater emphasis on women's sports.

And now, a generation has passed. Women who have participated on the highest level have sons and daughters who participate in sports. Mothers have been found watching Sports Center on CNN. When women enter the home after a long day's work, often they ask, "Who won?".

It has been noted that women are the fastest growing audience in televised sporting events, especially male dominated events.

But it isn't just pro basketball or college football that is drawing the big audiences. Pro football is huge and nothing seems bigger than the Super Bowl. NHL Hockey is extremely big as Fox is finding out, large audiences are being attracted in towns like St. Louis, Chicago and Detroit. As Gretsky has been the force behind bringing hockey to the warmer climes, Fox is responsible for bringing in the younger generation to the sport. Just look at an NHL arena. Virtually every game in every city is sold out. Even in the so-called minors like the International Hockey League, Milwaukee draws huge crowds. And one of the largest, growing audiences for hockey is women. If you want to find out the answer, just go to a game.

But is the proactive stance of women in sports translating into actual viewership? In certain sporting activities it is. For instance, in Figure Skating Championships of nearly any sort, the female viewership is substantially higher than the male audience. Upwards to 65% of the audience is female in some markets for this event. However, not all ice sports are as attractive. For instance, on NHL telecasts only 29% of audiences are female.

According to Editor's estimates, the average quarter-hour adult audience composition by socioeconomic status for Major Network Sports Telecasts are listed in Figure 1 (see FW 9/95). As you can see, the levels vary per socio-economic situation. But what about the actual viewership of women for specific sports. These interesting figures are listed in Figure 2 (see FW 9/95).

A careful review of these numbers reveals even better reasons why sporting telecasts are becoming good vehicles to reach women. For instance, in Baseball for the World Series, women 25-54 make up 50% of the female audience for an average quarter-hour and is nearly as large an audience as the men in that group. For NFL Monday Night Football, the women 18-49 and the women 25-54 make up 60% of the female audience and are very close to the male numbers. Home furnishings retailers who need to reach women must give serious consideration to this programming when planning their advertising. Why are more women watching these events? Title IX had something to do with it. But there is another reason why women are viewing more sports on television. Remember what I always say.... people don't read the newspaper anymore!

Lance G. Hanish is the President of Lance Benefield & Co., Inc. Worldwide, a leading marketing communications firm serving home furnishings retailers. Questions on any aspect of television media management or production can be direct to Mr. Hanish care of FURNITURE WORLD Magazine at lhanish@furninfo.com.