Morgan Stanley Is Winning With Serena Williams and Disney

Meanwhile, a 2023 study by Wasserman’s women-focused practice, The Collective, found just a 15% share of sports media coverage dedicated to women’s sports—despite women’s events accounting for 50% of all sports competitions in the U.S. 

Take collegiate sports out of the equation, and professional women’s sports get just 8% of sports media’s attention.

Few are more aware of the disparity than Disney Advertising, which just saw NCAA women’s March Madness coverage on ESPN platforms more than double its viewing audience from 2022 and end with nearly 19 million viewers for its championship game. Its WNBA Draft coverage drew an audience four times larger than the previous record, while regular-season matchups saw their highest viewership in more than two decades.

With NCAA women’s softball also seeing record viewership on ESPN platforms in 2024, Disney Advertising is in a unique position to help brands looking to invest in women’s sports.

“Over the last few years, we’ve put a lot of time and effort into looking at women’s sports, and it’s been great to see over the last year the excitement and attention around it,” Milligan said, also pointing out the disparity between women’s sports audience growth and brand investment. “We wanted to change that narrative a bit, and the way you do it is by putting your money where your mouth is.”

Holding court

Working with Disney Advertising, Morgan Stanley has its brand included among in-show elements on ESPN+ streaming and linear properties, voiceover promotions within ESPN studio shows and mentions through various ESPN cross-channel promotions. The company sees it not only as an opportunity to invest further in women’s sports, but to build on its global partnership with the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) launched at the beginning of 2023. 

With help from brand ambassador and 2021 US Open finalist Leylah Fernandez, Morgan Stanley has hosted Come Play tennis clinics in Charleston, New York, San Diego, London and Australia to help 3,000 kids in underrepresented communities access the sport. Morgan Stanley also teamed with the WTA on the What Moves You program, which helps tennis players manage their finances during and after their careers.

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