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The most marketable female athletes 2018

It has been well documented that female athletes in general have been afforded lower salaries and less lucrative sponsorships. This can be attributed to lower TV viewership and lack of prime time coverage than their male counterparts in their respective sports.

However, for the past few years, social media has provided a level playing field for all athletes — be it male or female. This doesn’t matter whether they play a sport that has a higher TV viewership or not, or even if they hail from a larger or smaller country. As long the athlete is exceptional at their sport and is social media savvy, they can promote their sponsors effectively. This allows them to drive as much or more fan engagement as their counterparts in more popular sports, regardless of gender.

Early last month, SportsPro released its annual 50 most marketable athletes for 2018, that features for the first time, the Hookit Marketability Score as a measurement of an athlete’s social media acumen. 14 of the top 50 athletes on the list were women, each player unique in their contribution to their sport, and some of them trailblazers of a sport traditionally dominated by male athletes.

How do we calculate this score?

The Hookit Marketability Score is a combination of scores from three key metrics:

  1. Reach score (max.score : 30) — The number of followers the athlete has. The scores are scaled by percentile of followers for all athletes.
  2. Engagement score (max.score : 35) — How engaged the athlete’s followers are on posts promoting brands and/or sponsors. The engagement rate for each athlete was calculated based on all their promoted posts (average engagement per post/total number of followers).
  3. Promotion Quality score (max.score : 35)— The value that the athlete drives for brands in promoted posts. While value depends on follower reach and engagement, promotion quality considers both to determine the value per follower, the rationale being that if an athlete is able to drive more value per follower, they are a more effective ambassador for their brand sponsors and will help return greater ROI.

Time frame considered: July 2017- July 2018

Rankings of female athletes based on Hookit’s Marketability score

When ranked only based on the Hookit Marketability score, it can be seen that Chloe Kim takes the first place, with a whopping 93.9 overall score. This score is also the highest among all athletes in the SportsPro 50 most marketable.

Hookit’s in-depth look by athlete, helps understand the areas where the athlete scored and where they fell short, as well as the factors that contributed to their overall marketability score.

Countdown to the most marketable female athletes of 2018

14. Smriti Mandhana — Cricket

Hookit Marketability Score: 33 ; SportsPro rank: 49

13. Alex Morgan — Soccer

Hookit Marketability Score: 33.1; SportsPro rank: 36

12. Simone Biles — Gymnastics

Hookit Marketability Score: 37.3; SportsPro rank: 15

11. Lexi Thompson — Golf

Hookit Marketability Score: 37.4; SportsPro rank: 20

10. Dina Asher Smith — Athletics

Hookit Marketability Score: 40.2 ; SportsPro rank: 47

09. Katie Ledecky — Swimming

Hookit Marketability Score: 41.9; SportsPro rank: 9

08. Garbiñe Muguruza — Tennis

Hookit Marketability Score: 42.3 ; SportsPro rank: 24

07. Sloane Stephens — Tennis

Hookit Marketability Score: 48.5 ; SportsPro rank: 31

06. Naomi Osaka — Tennis

Hookit Marketability Score: 52.9 ; SportsPro rank: 27

05. Mikaela Shiffrin — Skiing

Hookit Marketability Score: 55.1 ; SportsPro rank: 23

04. A’ja Wilson — Basketball

Hookit Marketability Score: 56.7 ; SportsPro rank: 39

03. Mallory Pugh — Soccer

Hookit Marketability Score: 63.8; SportsPro rank: 45

02. Leticia Bufoni — Skateboarding

Hookit Marketability Score: 70.9 ; SportsPro rank: 41

Street League Skateboarding’s own Leticia Bufoni was ranked #2 on Hookit’s list of the most marketable female athletes in the world.

Widely considered a sport dominated by male athletes, Brazilian Leticia Bufoni has become THE trailblazer for women in skateboarding today. A four time X Games gold medallist and the first ever women’s Super Crown Champion in Street League Skateboarding, she has her own national show in Brazil called “Leticia Let’s Go” and was named one of Forbes most powerful women in International sports in 2018.

Hookit Marketability score demystified

Leticia Bufoni is one of the most socially savvy athletes today and uses her social media channels most effectively to promote her sponsors. She has more than 3M followers across her social channels and high engagement with her followers. During the time period under consideration, she had 189 social media posts promoting her sponsors, and drove a total value of $18M for her sponsors — the highest value among the female athletes on the list. She also holds the 7th place overall among the most marketable athletes (and 2nd among female athletes), if scored only based on the Hookit Marketability score.


Large social media follower base, great engagement with followers and best promotion of sponsors.

01. Chloe Kim — Snowboard

Hookit Marketability Score: 93.9 ; SportsPro rank: 7


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