The WNBA’s Media Rights Deal with ESPN

The WNBA has recently (2013) signed a new deal with ESPN and ABC for coverage of their games through the year 2022. This is through the WNBA’s 25th anniversary. The WNBA will make $12 million each year with $1 million being given to each team.  There was a drop off in viewer of WNBA games in 2012 and it was thought that the WNBA would be on the decline.  The WNBA had a previous contract with ESPN through the 2015-2016 which was signed in 2007.  I couldn’t find much about the WNBA’s media deals previous to 2007. I believe that this is in part happening so that the WNBA can stay afloat this deal is really helping them out economically. This new contract takes the place of the old one.  This new contract has also added two games that will be covered: a Memorial Day double-header, which is meant to be like the Christmas double-header for the NBA.  Last season, number of viewers went up significantly.  The WNBA’s Memorial Day games were viewed the most because it was a coming out party of sorts for Elena Delle Donne, Skylar Diggins, and Brittney Griner, three prominent NCAA stars that were rookies last season.  It is believed by ESPN that the WNBA is a good investment because they attract loyal fans every year, it is part of their expansion in covering women’s sports, and the WNBA attracts more viewers than the MLS does.  It is also interesting to note that this deal caused the WNBA to revamp itself, with a new logo and a new deal with Adidas (new uniform style) riding the coattails of this deal with ESPN.  Another interesting fact is that 66% of the viewers of the WNBA are male, and half of the viewers are African American.  I think that in order for the WNBA to gain more viewers, they need to appeal to women more.  I don’t know how they would go about that but I think that if they appeal to their own gender more it will increase viewership numbers.  Maybe that will happen with time as well, since more and more girls are playing basketball.   Hopefully one day the WNBA will be more popular than it is and that it won’t be just a memory of a league that once was.

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