The Rise of the WNBA
With more coverage, new star players and a growing fan base, there’s no denying that the WNBA’s popularity is increasing.
A key area of growth? Media deals. Last year, the WNBA had its most-watched regular season in 14 years – and media companies are starting to want in.
- The league and Ion Television signed a new multiyear broadcasting deal in April for Friday night games to be shown on Ion.
- Commissioner Cathy Engelbert has previously said the league will seek a deal worth more than $100 million per year after its current deal with ESPN and ABC expires following the 2025 season.
“In my mind, when the TV deal is up in two years, that to me, that’s the moment,” Sue Bird, who retired after the 2022 season following 19 years with the Seattle Storm, said last year. “I think we just have to continue down this path, keep doing what we’ve been doing, and then when they start negotiations for that, that could really break things open and change the entire trajectory of our league.”
But the league’s growth isn’t only on the screen. Tricia McLean, the Seattle Storm’s CFO, said last year that ticket sales more than doubled during the 2022 season. The team had the highest average attendance that season, according to Statista.
The WNBA is set for growth internally, too. After raising $75 million from investors last year, the league is looking to add two expansion teams in the coming years. It’s unclear exactly when, but Engelbert had said the league originally wanted to announce the teams before the end of 2022.