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Sports Momentum Index Launches to Track Fandom Across Emerging and Women’s Sports

Monthly Poll by Allison and The Harris Poll Puts Finger on Pulse of Where the Momentum is, with Whom, and Why

First Monthly Spotlight: WNBA Momentum Surges

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–As interest in sports broadens, with sports that haven’t gotten well-deserved attention suddenly surging in fan interest and popularity, consumer and B2B brands are increasingly looking for ways in that carry smaller price tags, more returns on investment, and access to specific audiences who are very passionate for these sports. Against this backdrop,

The monthly poll will look at a broad cross section of existing and emerging sports – including an emphasis on women’s sports – documenting fans’ impressions of each sport’s cultural relevancy, personal relevance and depth of engagement through a series of questions posed to the general population of fans. Over time, the Sports Momentum Index by Allison and The Harris Poll will be able to capture the rise in popularity of emerging sports, ebbs and flows over the course of a season and year, and probe into the why’s and with-whom’s with strong statistical correlations.

“Whether it’s CMOs and their staffs investigating new or emerging sports and in search of data that can show where and with whom the momentum is, agents who have athletes on their roster in these sports and looking to prove to marketing partners why endorsing an athlete makes sense, or teams and leagues looking to do the same, we see the Sports Momentum Index as a new and unique resource for sports investments,” said Shane Winn, Managing Director of Sports Marketing at Allison.

According to Jennifer Musil, Managing Director of the Sports Practice at The Harris Poll, “The data makes clear the exciting new opportunities for leagues and brands as a new ‘big bang’ of sports is happening – from growing fan bases around new leagues, the increasing star power of female athletes, and the evolution of mainstream leagues. Today’s fans see sports as part of their identity, are connecting with others around that fandom, and they are ready to spend.”

Results of the monthly poll will be published with key findings and analysis, as well as a focus on key sports or trends relevant in that month. In addition, Allison Sports, the sports marketing arm of Allison, and the Sports Practice of the Harris Poll, will be publishing a monthly audio and video podcast summarizing the findings, along with occasional special guests to add color commentary.

EDITION 1: New Leagues. New Fans. And the Economic Potential They Bring.

The first edition of the Sports Momentum Index clearly demonstrates that, once unthinkable in a world dominated by LeBron, Serena and Brady, sports are entering yet another new, even more explosive era.

Specifically, new leagues are having a moment in 2024. The top momentum sports and leagues to date in 2024 are:

  1. Professional Pickleball: Index Score: 59.41
  2. Professional Women’s Hockey (PWHL): Index Score 56.63
  3. Professional Flag Football (AFFL): Index Score 55.30
  4. Professional Lacrosse: Index Score 54.79
  5. Professional Surfing: Index Score 54.40
  6. National Football League (NFL): Index Score 54.35

June Spotlight: The WNBA

This spring, the country entered its Caitlin Clark era. For the first time ever, a female collegiate basketball player became a household name and the WNBA draft seemed to gather more attention than ever before. The Sports Momentum Index was able to measure the impact of this moment. As of February, before March Madness, the WNBA did not have notably strong momentum. However, data collected in June made clear the impact of this cultural phenomenon. Between February and late May 2024, the WNBA saw increases across personal relevance, engagement and cultural currency metrics – as well as corresponding increases in overall fandom.

Among the roughly two-thirds of Americans familiar with the WNBA:

  • The percentage who agree the WNBA is a league they like to talk and/or post about grew from 28% to 41% (+13 pts)
  • The percentage who agree WNBA stars having influence on and off the court grew from 50% to 61% (+11 pts)
  • The percentage who agree they would watch more WNBA games if they were available grew from 35% to 46% (+11 pts)

During this time frame, the league also saw significant increases in the percentage individuals who identify as fans increasing from 49% of those familiar in February to 68% of those familiar in May (+19 pts).

Elsewhere in the index we see that the momentum across leagues is bringing in significant numbers of new fans. Roughly 25% of fans across leagues report being ‘new’ fans (having been a fan for less than 3 years). These fans are flocking to both long-standing leagues (1-in-3 fans of NCAA Women’s basketball and/or volleyball is new, as are 19% of Gen Z NFL fans) as well as upstart leagues (58% of those familiar with the new Professional Women’s Hockey League identify as fans).

The Index also shows that the buzz around women’s sports has no signs of stopping. 60% of American’s (including 58% of men) are excited to see the growth of women’s sports. This excitement is clear in the strong momentum behind the Professional Women’s Hockey League which is second in momentum as it wraps up its first season of play. We also see strong metrics around the NWSL and WNBA whose stars, according to the index, command significant off the field influence.

The appetite for more engagement is clear. 40% of those familiar with more niche leagues, such as Professional Pickleball, Lacrosse or Surfing, would watch more of these sports if they were available. And roughly half (47%) indicate they notice the brands who sponsor, or are involved with, their favorite sports.

For questions about the Sports Momentum Index by Allison and The Harris Poll, please reach out to sports@allisonworldwide.com or sports@harrispoll.com. Allison and The Harris Poll are both Stagwell companies. Representatives from Allison and The Harris Poll will also be available to discuss the findings at Sport Beach this month, Stagwell’s flagship hub at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

About Allison

Allison is a global integrated marketing and communications consultancy dedicated to driving growth, innovation, and positive change for clients, colleagues, and communities. With a diverse range of expertise and a forward-looking mindset, Allison delivers game-changing results that make a lasting impact. Allison is owned by Stagwell (NASDAQ: STGW), one of the fastest growing and most influential marketing and communications networks in the world. Agency partners leverage Stagwell’s technology, data analytics, insights and strategic consulting solutions to drive measurable results and optimize return on marketing investment for more than 1,700 clients worldwide. Learn more at www.allisonworldwide.com.

About The Harris Poll

The Harris Poll is a global public opinion, analytics, and market research consultancy that strives to reveal society’s authentic values to inspire leaders to create a better tomorrow. With a global research reach of more than ninety countries, Harris offers advisory services across sectors to world leaders, CEOs, and business decision-makers with state-of-the-art analytics, real-time software services, and practitioners in marketing, reputation, customer experience, trends, futures, and thought leadership/research-for-public release, The Harris Poll translates shifting social sentiment into a competitive marketplace advantage. One of the longest-running surveys in the U.S., The Harris Poll has tracked public opinion, motivations, and social sentiment since 1963, and is now a Stagwell (NASDAQ: STGW) company.

About Stagwell

Stagwell is the challenger holding company built to transform marketing. We deliver scaled creative performance for the world’s most ambitious brands, connecting culture-moving creativity with leading-edge technology to harmonize the art and science of marketing. Led by entrepreneurs, our 10,000+ specialists in 30+ countries are unified under a single purpose: to drive effectiveness and improve business results for our clients. Join us at www.stagwellglobal.com.

Contacts

Shanna Brown

shanna.brown@allisonworldwide.com

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