The Telegraph launches female sports vertical with four new staff

The Telegraph is starting a new editorial vertical, Telegraph Women’s Sport, which will be staffed with a team of four, as well as a network of contributors like Judy Murray, triple European sprint champion, Dina Asher-Smith, and England football vice-captain, Jordan Nobbs.

Announced during Advertising Week Europe, the vertical launches with five objectives including addressing the underrepresentation of women in sports; incorporating Telegraph Women’s Sport coverage into existing Telegraph channels as well as launching new ones; campaigning on key issues; growing new audiences and increasing sponsorship opportunities.

At launch, content includes how Atletico Madrid and Barcelona smashed attendance record for women’s football club match and the story of a 10-year old skateboarder set to become Britain’s youngest ever Olympian. Content will cover news, features, data visualizations, audio and video. As well as an online channel on the Telegraph’s news website and apps, Telegraph Women’s Sport will have its own Twitter and Instagram accounts plus a weekly newsletter. In print, the new vertical will include coverage in the Sports section of the daily paper and an additional monthly supplement.

Editorial investment during tough times in media are noteworthy. A year ago the publisher also launched a tech-focused vertical with 15 staffers globally. According to the Telegraph, this is just the start.

“Women don’t see themselves in the sports pages and are fed up of how influential and important men and sport are in society,” said Anna Kessel, the Telegraph’s newly-appointed Women’s Sport editor. “Women don’t feel included. My mission is the change that.”

The Telegraph’s investment shows there’s an appetite from its readers which is reflective of the wider industry trends: women’s football matches are filling Premier League stadiums, Nike put on a huge show debuting its kit for the women’s football World Cup this month. Adidas followed by announcing that Adidas-sponsored players on the team that wins the Women’s World Cup this year will receive the same performance bonus payments as their male counterparts. This interest is unprecedented and growing in momentum, said Kessel.

As well as growing the Telegraph’s younger audience — its Snapchat edition will feature content from the vertical — the goal is to grow its female audience. But there’s also a monetary opportunity: more female-focused coverage, especially inspirational content, opens sponsorship options to brands new to the Telegraph’s sports pages, like those from the beauty sector.

“It’s a really bold and positive step, but it will be important that this doesn’t always just exist as a standalone piece on women’s sport alone,” said Richard Barker, joint managing director at M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment. “For it to work for a lot of brand partners this content will need to be woven into the existing sport coverage and giving opportunities to reach the full range of sports consumers.”

Kessel points to a report from 2013 that found that less than half a percent of the money spent on sports went on sports for women, and around 2 percent of the media coverage in newspapers was about women. Yet there are success cases that prove it can be more effective. Since 2011, Newton Investment Management has been sponsoring the Women’s Boat Race, as well as being more cost-effective than male sports, post sponsorship analysis found that the return on the initial investment was tenfold.

“[British financier] Helen Morrissey’s advice was don’t look at the spreadsheet, looks at the vision,” said Kessel. “Where we are in 2019 you have to make a statement, we want a space for women and by women. This is the first time they’ve had their own space, we need to call it something recognizable. This is part of the process, hopefully, it won’t have to be delineated forever.”

Image: courtesy of The Telegraph.

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