The GIST’s Recent $1 Million Raise Reflects A Greater Trend In The Rise Of Women In Sports
The NFL typically dominates the most-watched primetime games telecasted in the United States. However, even the NFL suffered rating losses in 2020, down 11% from 2019. Similarly, several other major professional sports leagues saw much steeper declines. Yet in the last year, while men’s major sports viewership decreased, The GIST — a media company that centers women’s voices and provides equal coverage on men’s and women’s sports — grew it’s email newsletter audience by 350% and total revenue by over 1,000%. Last week, the company oversubscribed their $1 million seed-round with participation from 3GP Capital, JDS Sports, August Group, Even Odds Investments and Bettor Capital, and a group of angel investors who bring experience from R/GA Ventures, Barstool Sports and theSkimm.
“There is a massive lack of diversity in sports media — less than 14% of sports journalists are women. The GIST’s traction in the last year demonstrates there’s demand for a new and refreshing voice and format for sports news, and that there’s opportunity for the whole industry to grow when sports content is inclusive, accessible and equal in its coverage of men’s and women’s sports,” said Roslyn McLarty, co-founder of The GIST.
The GIST’s mission is to level the playing field in sports. In a male-dominated industry, The GIST brings traditionally absent female voices and perspectives to the forefront, allowing the publication to provide a refreshing angle and equal coverage on both men’s and women’s sports.
Originally launched as a weekly newsletter providing ‘the gist’ of what’s happening in sport, the company has since expanded to a 3x-weekly newsletter providing content for the United States and Canada; and localized content for nine cities including New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Seattle, Dallas, Toronto, and Ottawa. The GIST also hosts a weekly sports news podcast, The GIST of It, daily social media content and fantasy.
The GIST’s traction is reflective of a greater trend in the rise of both women-owned and operated sports media platforms and of women in sports, in general. Last month, four Olympic gold medalists including Alex Morgan, Chloe Kim, Simone Manuel and Sue Bird, joined forces to launch TOGETHXR, a media and commerce company aimed at celebrating millennial and Gen Z female athletes and their impact.
Women’s professional sports viewership has grown significantly in the last year with the NWSL viewership growing 493% and the WNBA growing 68%. According to social media research firm, Zoomph, both leagues also scored higher on Twitter engagement rates during last summer’s shortened seasons than North America’s five men’s major leagues (NHL, NBA, MLS, NFL, and MLB).
The industry’s growth and a new, passionate audience has also attracted corporate dollars from both sponsorship and investment perspectives. In 2020, Secret Deodorant committed $1 million to the PWHPA Dream Gap Tour. Glossier, the popular skincare and makeup brand, became the WNBA’s first ‘beauty partner,’ launching two new products and a promotional video featuring 8 WNBA players as “body heroes.” Recently, there has also been an influx of celebrity investors in women’s sports leagues and teams. Led by Natalie Portman, the NWSL’s most recent expansion team, Angel City FC, also boasts Eva Longoria, Serena Williams, Alexis Ohanian, Jennifer Garner and more as part of their ownership group. Meanwhile, four-time grand slam champion, Naomi Osaka, recently became an investor in the North Carolina Courage.
Similarly, The GIST has been able to leverage both the women’s and men’s sports calendars to earn meaningful revenue, working with brands that want to authentically connect and engage with it’s premium audience. The NBA, FanDuel, Wilson and Adidas are some of The GIST’s current strategic partners. “We’re on track to surpass our $1 million revenue target for 2021. As the space grows there’s been an increased demand to authentically engage with underserved sports fans. Our partners recognize a need to diversify their following, fans and customers and see The GIST as a gateway to accessing and earning the trust of female fans,” said The GIST co-founder, Jacie deHoop.
“We’re thrilled to back this team and support the mission of leveling the playing field,” said Matt Aronson, President of JDS Sports, a holding company that invests across sports media and technology. “The GIST is perfectly positioned to make sports coverage more accessible and inclusive, bring more fans into the fold, and thereby grow the entire industry at large.”
The GIST plans to invest the fresh capital into growing their audience, team, and product offering. “As much as this financing provides us with growth capital to scale our revenue, it also allows us to scale our impact on the sports industry. We’re demonstrating that it’s possible to be successful in a new model where sports fans — men and women alike — consume sports content that’s created by women, has equal coverage and covers athletes that are representative of a wider audience. We’re increasingly seeing women rightfully taking up space in sports and are grateful to have the opportunity to advance this movement in any way we can,” said The GIST co-founder, Ellen Hyslop.