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With New Audio Sports Network, iHeart Makes Splash In Women's Sports.


Women’s Sports Audio Network, first announced in April by iHeartMedia and Deep Blue Sports + Entertainment, will hit the audio field Tuesday (June 18) with a slate of podcasts focused on women’s sports and a high-profile presence on the radio. WSAN will launch regular “Women’s Sports Reports” across more than 500 iHeart-owned broadcast radio stations nationwide, it what it says is a landmark moment in bringing more equitable media coverage to women’s sports for the first time.


The setting for the launch of “Women’s Sports Reports” will be the Cannes Lions Festival in France, where advertising and media executives are gathered this week. It is there that Deep Blue Sports + Entertainment will host the Women’s Sports House, in partnership with Axios. The Women’s Sports House is part of TN50, a dedicated content platform that explores the dollars and decisions required to drive “The Next 50” (TN50) years in women’s sports. The event includes three days of dedicated programming exploring the future of business, leadership, creativity and talent within women's sports.


“This is a pivotal moment for women’s sports to get heard,” iHeart CMO Gayle Troberman said in a statement “It’s humbling and inspiring that the first-ever, dedicated women’s sports reports will start airing with the massive reach of iHeart’s broadcast radio platform and the full-on power of collaboration between world class athletes, incredible journalists, podcasters and the fans.”


Among the focuses of WSAN will be to raise the profile of the athletes and pro sports personalities, with several hosting podcasts. Among those slated to host podcasts are hockey stars Madison Packer and Anya Packer, tennis Grand Slam winner Rennae Stubbs, WNBA legend Sheryl Swoopes, and golf media personality Tisha Alyn, as well as revered personalities Khristina Williams and Sarah Spain.


Among the first shows set to debut on July 17 is Good Game with Sarah Spain. The daily podcast will focus on thebiggest stories in women’s sports. Along with breaking news and interviews, Spain will be regularly joined by a roster of guests -- athletes, coaches, reporters, celebrity fans and more -- to talk about the top games and issues of the day.


“Women’s sports have no shortage of show-stopping moments to unpack, and that’s especially true this summer – from the ongoing NWSL and WNBA seasons to the excitement at the upcoming Paris Olympic games,” Spain said. “Whether we're spilling tea or talking ‘Ts’, we're gonna give fans both loyal and new everything they need to keep up with the wild world of women’s sports.


Amon the other podcasts set to launch in the coming weeks is a podcast hosted by women’s basketball star Sheryl Swoopes, pro golfer and media personality Tisha Alyn, pro hockey all-star Madison Packer, tennis great Rennae Stubbs, magazine founder Caitlin Thompson, and WNBA insider Kristina Williams.


“We’re committed to championing incredible athletes and building further awareness until women’s sports reaches the kind of nationwide and international prominence it has always deserved,” Troberman said.


Growing Advertiser Interest


Two months ago, iHeart and Deep Blue Sports announced the launch of WSAN – a free, ad-supported network that will include podcasts, daily sports reports, spotlights and audio vignettes, social content, and promotion. It is designed to offer talent and programming year-round with the launch of new daily shows focused on a wide range of sports. – from soccer and basketball to tennis, golf, volleyball and more. 


“Women's sports aren't just having a moment, it is the moment. And yet women's sports content continues to be difficult to find and difficult to buy,” said Laura Correnti, CEO of Deep Blue Sports + Entertainment. “The Women's Sports Audio Network aims to change that -- providing an accessible platform for every fan, from the most casual to biggest of super fans, to be educated and entertained while expanding the aperture of investment opportunities for brands to reach and engage with a dialed-in women's sports community."


WSAN launches with the support of brands including Capital One, e.l.f. Cosmetics and e.l.f. Skin joining as the founding partners of the new network. 


“As long-standing supporters of women’s sports, both on the collegiate and professional level, we are excited to build on these efforts by partnering with iHeartMedia and Deep Blue Sports + Entertainment to increase access to women’s sports content and help raise the profile of these amazing athletes,” said Cindy Epley, VP of Brand Media Strategy and Investment at Capital One. 


The launch of the first-ever women’s sports audio network comes at a time when investment and viewership numbers for women’s sports are on the rise. This year, elite women’s sports are currently expected to become a $1 billion industry, representing a 300% increase in just three years, while in the US, women's sports still only receive 15% of media coverage


“Our support is especially prominent where we see the underrepresentation of women, both as athletes and in the surrounding content. So, we are taking over the mic to change the conversation,” said Kory Marchisotto, Chief Marketing Officer at e.l.f. Beauty. “It’s important to normalize positivity, inclusivity and accessibility so that equity becomes our strongest muscle. That’s how the next generation gains increasing strength to dream big and achieve their highest vision.”


In a recent Deloitte report, research found that for every dollar spent in women’s sports, more than seven dollars was generated in “customer value for that organization.”

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