Photo caption: Alyssa Thomas (credit: WNBA)
– WNBA Posts Most-Watched Regular Season in 21 Years –
– WNBA Has Highest Total Attendance in 13 Years –
The WNBA this year had its most-watched regular season in 21 years. Viewership across its national television partners – ABC, CBS, ESPN and ESPN2 – was up 21 percent over the 2022 season. The league also set new highs across WNBA digital platforms, social media engagement and sports betting.
The 2023 WNBA Playoffs presented by Google tip off tonight as three-time WNBA All-Star Napheesa Collier and the sixth-seeded Minnesota Lynx visit 2023 league assists leader Alyssa Thomas and the third-seeded Connecticut Sun (8 p.m. ET, ESPN2), followed by two-time WNBA MVP A’ja Wilson and the top-seeded Las Vegas Aces hosting 2021 WNBA Finals MVP Kahleah Copper and the eighth-seeded Chicago Sky (10 p.m. ET, ESPN). The first round continues with an ESPN2 doubleheader on Friday, Sept. 15, when two-time WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne and the seventh-seeded Washington Mystics visit two-time WNBA Finals MVP Breanna Stewart and the second-seeded New York Liberty (7:30 p.m. ET), and three-time WNBA All-Star Arike Ogunbowale and the fourth-seeded Dallas Wings host 2022 WNBA Rookie of the Year Rhyne Howard and the fifth-seeded Atlanta Dream (9:30 p.m. ET).
Highlights from the season include:
· VIEWERSHIP: Combined viewership for the WNBA across ESPN Networks (ABC, ESPN, ESPN2) and CBS Television Network was up 21 percent over the 2022 regular season. Viewership across ABC, ESPN and CBS was up eight percent over last season and averaged 505,000 viewers.
- Additional season viewership highlights:
- The WNBA on ABC averaged 627,000 viewers, making it the most-viewed regular season on ABC in 11 years.
- The 2023 WNBA Regular Season reached over 36 million total unique viewers across all national networks, the highest since 2008 and up 27 percent from 2022.
- The 2023 AT&T WNBA All-Star Game on ABC was the most-watched WNBA All-Star Game in 16 years, averaging 850,000 viewers with a peak of 955,000 viewers.
- WNBA Draft 2023 presented by State Farm® averaged 572,000 viewers on ESPN, up 42 percent over last year and the most-watched WNBA Draft since 2004.
- The WNBA also introduced appointment viewing this season with Thursday nights on Amazon Prime Video, WNBA Friday Night Spotlight with new broadcast partner ION, and weekend packages featuring the Disney/ESPN Networks, CBS and the CBS Sports Network.
- Regular-season games on ION were consumed for a total of 14 million hours.
· ATTENDANCE: WNBA attendance was up 16 percent for the 2023 season compared to last year. The average attendance of 6,615 fans per game was the highest since 2018.
- The WNBA had its highest total attendance in 13 years (1,587,488).
- The 2022 WNBA champion Las Vegas Aces saw the highest increase in average attendance, (more than 66 percent year over year), averaging a league-high 9,551 fans per game. The Aces also hosted the highest-attended game this season, drawing a crowd of 17,406 against the Phoenix Mercury on Sept. 10 on the final day of the regular season.
- Mercury All-Star Brittney Griner’s first home game in her return to the WNBA, against the Chicago Sky on May 21, drew 14,040 fans, third highest for a WNBA game this season.
- The first WNBA Canada Game presented by Tangerine, which saw the Sky defeat the Minnesota Lynx 82-74 in a preseason game, was played before a sold-out crowd of approximately 20,000 fans at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto on May 13.
· SOCIAL MEDIA ENGAGEMENT: Across all @WNBA social media handles, the league generated a record 373 million video views this season, up 96 percent from the 2022 season. The 20 million total actions/engagements and 1.1 million hours watched increased by 65 percent and 42 percent, respectively, from last season.
· WNBA DIGITIAL PLATFORMS: The relaunched App with exclusive series, behind-the-scenes content and league and game coverage saw downloads up nearly 400 percent. The league’s out-of-market live game package experienced 10 percent growth in subscribers this season. The season-opening game featuring the New York Liberty at the Washington Mystics on May 13, had the highest viewership in WNBA League Pass history, up 107 percent from the previous record-setting game on the platform. Content consumption was up across digital channels with League Pass total views for the season up 257 percent, and the website had a 21 percent increase in average time spent per visit during the regular season.
· SPORTS BETTING: On FanDuel Sportsbook, the number of bets on the WNBA more than doubled from last season. Individual bets on the marketplace increased by more than 163 percent year over year, and the WNBA handle was up more than 100 percent.
- The WNBA launched the WNBABet tab, featuring content from many of the league’s partners, including FanDuel, ESPN, The Action Network, Rotowire and the American Gaming Association.
· AT&T WNBA ALL-STAR: In addition to being the most-watched WNBA All-Star Game since 2007, AT&T WNBA All-Star 2023 in Las Vegas achieved significant growth across the board.
- The event set a record for merchandise sold at WNBA All-Star, a 107 percent increase over last year’s record-setting sales in Chicago. With an all-time-high 16 licensees across six locations on site, sales were up 658 percent compared to the last time WNBA All-Star was held in Las Vegas (2021).
- WNBA All-Star saw a 33 percent increase in fan voting, along with 100 percent growth in the number of partners activating and a 70 percent increase in merchandise sales at the fan festival WNBA Live presented by U.S. Bank.
· WNBA COMMISSIONER’S CUP PRESENTED BY COINBASE: The 2023 WNBA Commissioner’s Cup Championship Game presented by Coinbase attracted the largest audience for a WNBA game ever for Prime Video, nearly doubling the viewership of last year’s Commissioner’s Cup Championship Game. The in-season competition saw the teams competing for a prize pool of more than $500,000. As part of the total prize pool, Coinbase provided a cryptocurrency bonus of $120,000 for players in the Championship Game.
· COMMUNITY IMPACT: The 2023 WNBA season was dedicated to women’s health advocacy, with a focus on Black, Brown and LGBTQ+ communities. Throughout the season, teams, players and the league highlighted four key pillars of women’s health: maternal health, mental health, reproductive health and cancer awareness and education. Through the 2023 WNBA Commissioner’s Cup presented by Coinbase, each WNBA team chose a local women’s health organization to play for, with $200,000 donated to both local and national non-profit organizations committed to raising awareness about these important women’s health equity issues.
· ON THE COURT: WNBA players and teams continued to perform at the highest level of the game:
- The Seattle Storm’s Jewell Loyd set a WNBA single-season record with 939 points.
- The New York Liberty’s Breanna Stewart had a WNBA-record six games of at least 40 points. In total, WNBA players produced a record 13 40-point games, 10 more than the prior record of three.
- The Connecticut Sun’s Alyssa Thomas posted a record six triple-doubles and broke the single-season record for total assists (316).
- The WNBA had a record 13 triple-doubles, six more than in 2022 (seven) and four more than in the league’s first 25 regular seasons combined (nine).
- The Phoenix Mercury’s Diana Taurasi became the first player in WNBA history to score 10,000 career points.
- The Las Vegas Aces’ A’ja Wilson became the fastest player to reach 3,500 points, 1,500 rebounds and 300 blocks.
- New York’s Sabrina Ionescu set records for 3-pointers made in the regular season (128) and points scored in a single round of the STARRY® WNBA 3-Point Contest (37).