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Wednesday, April 17, 2024
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As Women’s Sports Grows, Broadcaster Taps Into Momentum

  • CBS/ESPN veteran Bonnie Bernstein launching “She Got Game” podcast.
  • ESPN posted most-watched women’s college hoops season in a decade.
South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley.
David Yeazell-USA TODAY Sports

Women’s college basketball is generating strong TV ratings this season. Just in time for the tipoff of the 2023 NCAA women’s tournament, CBS Sports and ESPN veteran Bonnie Bernstein is poised to launch a new podcast focusing on the key role that sports have played in the lives of high-achieving businesswomen.

Starting March 9, Bernstein will launch “She Got Game,” a 10-part Audible original series. Bernstein will go one-on-one with female athletes, business leaders, and celebrities. 

ESPN just posted its most-viewed regular season of women’s college hoops since 2014-15, averaging 199,000 viewers across 83 games. That was up 11% from last season.

Total viewing of regular season women’s college hoops was up 54% this season across all networks, tweeted Fox Sports executive Michael Mulvihill.

During an interview with Front Office Sports, Bernstein said she believes her timing is right, given the growing attraction of women’s sports to viewers and sponsors, Women’s History Month, and the 50th anniversary of Title IX. 

“My hope is that listeners will find it to be inspirational and aspirational,” said Bernstein, who’s wearing multiple hats as creator, host, and executive producer.  “This is illustrative of a bigger theme. The ratings are up for women’s sports. The research tells us there’s an extraordinary appetite for sports – and not just among female sports fans but among male sports fans. We see brands stepping up to support women’s sports in a way we’ve never seen before.”

For example, CVC Capital announced on Monday that it had invested $150 million with the Women’s Tennis Association.

All of the guests in Bernstein’s series played sports, ranging from college hoops and track to soccer and softball. Among the big names scheduled to appear:

  • Sheila Johnson, the country’s first black female billionaire and part owner/partner in the three Washington pro sports franchises: the NBA’s Wizards, the NHL’s Capitals, and WNBA Mystics.
  • Former Oakland Raiders chief executive officer turned CBS NFL analyst Amy Trask.
  • XFL owner and TV/film producer Dany Garcia.
  • Angel City FC founder Julie Uhrman.
  • Olympic gymnast turned entrepreneur Shawn Johnson.
  • Laila Ali, former boxing champion.
  • Chelsea Clinton, former First Daughter turned global health advocate.
  • WWE wrestler Bianca Belair.
  • Actresses Aisha Tyler and Folake Olowofoyeku.

The growth in TV viewership for women’s sports is great news, said Bernstein. The problem is girls and young women are still dropping out of sports at an earlier age and a higher frequency than boys.

“Sports in many places and for many families has become cost-prohibitive. So girls are leaving,” said the former college gymnast at the University of Maryland. 

“So my hope is that this sort of story-telling – told through the voices of extraordinarily successful and powerful women – will land differently with girls than how the message from Mom or Dad or an aunt or grandmother or a guardian would be…You will continue to cultivate life skills that will be critical in your success in life. And success in your career.”

Bernstein’s Walk Swiftly Productions is producing the series for Audible alongside XG Productions.

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