FAST Studios, the Los Angeles-based venture studio creating the next generation of premium media brands, today unveiled its multi-million dollar plan to build the Women’s Sports Network — a free, ad-supported, 24/7 streaming destination where fans will find 100% women’s sports content featured around the clock. Stuart McLean, CEO of FAST Studios, made the announcement.
The Women’s Sports Network has confirmed participation from several leading organizations including the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA), U.S. Ski and Snowboard and World Surf League (WSL), in addition to collaborative support from the women’s sports media brand GoodSport and Empower Onyx, a minority-owned media company that celebrates the journey of Black women and girls through sports, with more launch partners to follow. The channel’s strategy is to be as inclusive as possible with rights holders, athletes and content producers to further raise the profile of women’s sports.
FAST Studios’ Women’s Sports Network Advisory Board includes respected leaders in women’s sports, including Carol Stiff, a 30-year veteran of ESPN and Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame inductee who has been instrumental in growing the profile of women’s sports media throughout her career; and Sophie Goldschmidt, CEO of U.S. Ski & Snowboard who recently served as CEO of the World Surf League (WSL) and previously held leadership positions with the NBA, Women’s Tennis Association, European PGA Tour and Adidas.
To complement the array of programming from its content partners, Women’s Sports Network will produce flagship daily and weekly women’s sports news, talk and highlights shows from a new, dedicated studio space in Los Angeles. Emmy Award-winning media executive Melissa Forman is advising the channel’s original programming strategy.
“Women’s sports programming has been too hard to find on TV for too long. Brands are telling us that they want to support female athletes, and they appreciate how brand-safe and relatable they are,” added Stiff. “When we launch, 50 years after Title IX started the ball rolling towards parity for women’s sports in America, the Women’s Sports Network will fill a void that has been plaguing brands and audiences alike.”
“There is a huge, under-served market for women’s sports on television. Currently, female athletes receive only 4% of sports media coverage despite making up 40% of all participants in sports,” said Goldschmidt. “The new Women’s Sports Network is primed for success with our initial slate of content partnerships with key sports organizations, deep relationships with brand marketers, and the growing demand for a premiere destination for women’s sports.”
With a billion dollar plus potential for the women’s sports category, per a recent Deloitte report, the free, ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) industry is expected to grow to $4.1 billion with 216 million monthly active users in the coming years, per nScreenMedia.
Sports Innovation Lab, a data and fan intelligence company whose research aims to unlock the untapped potential for sports organizations by tracking what fans do, watch, and buy, recognizes that fan behavior is changing rapidly. FAST Studios CEO McLean sits on the Sports Innovation Lab’s Fluid Fan Leadership Board, an executive network of industry leaders focused on the latest technologies and behavior trends that are currently redefining the sports and entertainment experience.
“Our groundbreaking Fan Project research has confirmed time and again that there is massive demand for women’s sports coverage – fans want to watch, but it’s not always easy to find women’s sports broadcasts and other women’s sports programming,” said Angela Ruggiero, CEO and co-founder of Sports Innovation Lab. “Our studies show that when women’s sports content is consistently scheduled and easy to find, the community – made up of both male and female viewers – tunes in. The Women’s Sports Network is a powerful step forward in making women’s sports content more visible and accessible, and we can’t wait to see sports fans rally around it.”
“For too long, the women’s sports industry has been seen through the lens of men’s sports, and that has led to a massive underestimation of the commercial opportunity,” said Stuart McLean, CEO of FAST Studios. “Our significant investment in the Women’s Sports Network, the outstanding team of partners we’re continuing to grow, and the cultural forces at play all combine to make this the most exciting new venture I’ve ever had the privilege to launch. We are so grateful to have so many visionary women embrace this mission and put their energy and expertise behind this new venture.”
Women’s Sports Network will debut in 2022 on major free, ad-supported streaming platforms. FAST Studios will manage programming, advertising and distribution as it does for its other channels. With the addition of Women’s Sports Network, FAST Studios is adding to its slate of OTT sports brands.
The company recently launched SpartanTV, a first of its kind 24/7 streaming channel, with Spartan Race – the world’s leading obstacle race and lifestyle wellness brand – and Air Force Special Warfare serving as an anchor sponsor, and Racing America, a 24/7 home for grassroots racing with live races and original content that includes a slate of news-driven shows, archival races and NASCAR Cup Series team content. Additional channels are already in the pipeline and will launch shortly.