In April, the WNBA announced a multi-year partnership with CBS Sports Network. In addition to the league’s existing deal with ESPN, 40 live primetime and weekend games will be televised by CBS Sports during the 2019 season, a collaboration that has successfully made the league more visible to fans around the world.
“Through our partnership with CBS Sports Network, the WNBA is joining an elite lineup of premium sports programming,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in April. “We thank CBS Sports for making such a meaningful commitment to women’s basketball and for providing another platform to showcase the world-class athletes of the WNBA.”
The result? A 64 percent rise in TV ratings from last year, with the average viewership per game standing at 413,000 fans. This is big for the WNBA and women’s sports as a whole, as the CBS deal continues to offer more exposure while generating even greater interest than the previous season. This has occurred despite the absence of big-name stars like the Minnesota Lynx’s Maya Moore and the Seattle Storm’s Breanna Stewart, who will not play at all this season.
Still in the midst of it all, the league still has one big problem: fan attendance at games, a notable issue over the past several years.
Last season, live game attendance dropped 12 percent despite a notable increase in ESPN viewership and WNBA League Pass subscriptions. This year, the Mercury and the Sparks are the only two WNBA teams averaging more than 10,000 fans per game, with average attendance falling to a meager 7,716 fans per matchup.
This is indeed problematic because the WNBA houses some of the best athletes in the world, regardless of gender. The solution lies within sports fans like you and me who have a responsibility to advocate for the WNBA and its unparalleled talent because, at the end of the day, our support could very well play a role in the league’s survival.
Be sure to support your local WNBA team by purchasing tickets or catching a live game broadcast. Visit WNBA.com for additional information.
Image Source: Chicago Tribune