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The NFL Is Growing Only Because of Women

Carolina Panthers fans cheering during a game against the Detroit Lions in Charlotte, N.C.
Carolina Panthers fans cheering during a game against the Detroit Lions in Charlotte, N.C.Photograph by Bob Leverone/AP Photo

A key point lies buried in the controversy around the National Football League’s string of image-wrecking missteps, many of which might alienate women: The league’s future depends on female fans.

For the NFL to grow, it has to court women, its fastest-growing fan demographic. No matter how you measure it, female viewership has grown much faster than male viewership in the past several years. Conventional wisdom suggests that every man who could be a football fan already is. The NFL has squeezed everything it can from that segment of the population. There’s still potential to convert more women into full-time fans, and that’s where the league’s revenue growth must come from. Data from Ebiquity, a media marketing and analytics firm, show exactly how much the female fan base means to the league.