The WNBA has launched its 28th season with historic success, achieving the highest attendance in 26 years and unprecedented viewership across multiple networks. Since the season’s start on May 14th, the league has seen a 60% year-over-year increase in viewership among Hispanic and Black audiences, growing by 96% and 67%, respectively. Additionally, viewership among those under 35 jumped by 124%, with a 139% increase in young girls tuning in. That is the ultimate goal, have a young audience which can dream to be in the league one day.

The league’s 2024 rookie class has significantly contributed to fan engagement, with standout players like Caitlin Clark of the Indiana Fever, Angel Reese of the Chicago Sky, and Cameron Brink of the Los Angeles Sparks driving social media interactions. The WNBA has experienced a 236% rise in merchandise sales, with Clark, Reese, and Brink leading jersey sales.

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The league’s app has also seen a dramatic increase in monthly active users, up by 613% year-over-year. So Reese is right, they all have to do with the growth of the league, veterans and rookies, but Clark does stand out above all of them. Just look to what all the most watched games have in common even if their record is like the Detroit Pistons.

  • For ESPN – The Opening Night matchup featuring the Indiana Fever vs. the Connecticut Sun averaged 2.12 million viewers across ESPN2, ESPN+ and Disney+, peaking at 2.34 million viewers, making it the most-watched WNBA game on Disney platforms ever.
  • For ABC – The Indiana Fever vs. the New York Liberty averaged 1.71 million viewers, making it the most-viewed WNBA game on ABC ever and the second-most-viewed game across Disney networks ever, behind the one above.

The league’s broadcast success is equally noteworthy. Games across ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, and CBS are averaging 1.32 million viewers, nearly tripling last season’s average. ION and NBA TV have also reported record viewership. ION’s airing of the Indiana Fever vs. Los Angeles Sparks game averaged 724,000 viewers, the highest for the network. NBA TV saw its most-viewed WNBA game with the Los Angeles Sparks vs. Indiana Fever, averaging 430,000 viewers. These milestones highlight the league’s expanding reach and appeal.

Standout rookies like Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese have significantly driven fan engagement and merchandise sales. Despite past conflicts with Clark, Reese highlights her influence on the sport’s rise, stating, “I’ll look back in 20 years and be like the reason why we’re watching women’s basketball is not just because of one person. It’s because of me, too.” Reese’s bold claim might be true, but Clark is by far the reason this numbers will be higher than ever when the season ends, even if she doesn’t make the playoffs which seem to be the way things are going.

And to finish, the most important thing for me, the attendance. Figures have been impressive, with approximately 400,000 fans attending games since the season’s start, the highest in 26 years. More than half of all games were sellouts, a 156% increase from last year, and WNBA arenas have been filled to 94% capacity,up 17% from 2023. These numbers underscore the growing popularity of women’s basketball.

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Marca

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