Should Seven Network pay The Matildas performance bonuses?

Big money and big bonuses happen all the time in media. Why not for the Matildas? Henry Innis, CEO of Mutinex, poses the question.

I’ve long been fascinated by the idea of arbitrage in the ad market. Most advertising is arbitrage. We buy an ad somewhere, and hope it will generate more revenue than it cost, sometime in the future.

The aim of advertising is make more dollars in the long-run than you spend buying eyeballs. Arbitrage, not creativity, is the ultimate success of the advertiser.

Arbitrage is found in many places, but sports rights are hard to get right. They are so visible. They are so well priced because everyone competes for them. Unless you’re an integrated sponsor, my bet is the arbitrage margin on sport is thin. Very thin indeed.

It’s why for Seven, the Matildas has been such a wild-eyed success.

Seven bought the rights here for a reported $4 million. Advertisers, I’m sure, would have paid similarly low prices for the ads if they bought upfront. Businesses like the Commonwealth Bank haven’t broken their balanace sheet sponsoring the Matildas.

Yet, the average Matildas player gets paid a mere $215,000. These are the same players who would have created a massive result for Seven and their advertisers.

In fact, within GrowthOS, we’ve seen a huge uptick in the performance of women’s sport generally. It’s the hidden jewel of the marketing return on investment (MROI) crown. Increasingly, advertisers are profiting heavily from women’s sport. That’s symptomatic of trend in viewership and audiences.

I’m even seeing some forward-thinking brands beginning to separate out the women’s and men’s sponsorship components in platform to try to understand the impact separately and together. Increasingly, it’s a bargain to deal with these categories.

So, we have an increasingly high performing asset being bought at fairly low prices by publishers and on-sold to advertisers. In essence, we have the ad arbitrage of a lifetime.

Yet the Matildas aren’t seeing the huge rewards reaped here. The average player is not being paid huge amounts of money. Matildas captain and icon, Sam Kerr, is calling for higher investment and pay in the sport. Clearly it pays big in ad dollars. Yet the government and commercial structures simply aren’t there yet.

I think the solution is for Seven, who have been genuinely forward thinking in their approach to women’s sport, to contribute both in revenue and a small bonus for each player. As a gesture, it would show that they understand and share the commercial success back to the team.

And ongoing, you can see the commercial case for this. Players will be more likely to look and speak favourably about Seven. It probably helps them in a future negotiation. People around the country will be more favourably disposed to Seven generally.

It’s the ultimate gesture to build brand and be more than a media company.

I hope Seven does it. I hope this is a turning point for women’s sport. As someone who genuinely loved the World Cup, and personally found it far more compelling than the men’s edition, I’m excited to see if we can make this a changed world for women’s sport.

Henry Innis is CEO of Mutinex, Australia’s leading market mix modelling platform managing over $1.5bn of marketing insights annually for leading brands through GrowthOS. Brands extract MROI insights that help them make better, smarter and faster decisions about how to grow their businesses.


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