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Redwood Bark

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Redwood Bark

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Slam Dunk: How the WNBA can net increased revenue and viewership

As Caitlin Clark, Cameron Brink, Sabrina Ionescu and many more superstars have grown in popularity, the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) has made leaps in viewership and revenue. According to the Entertainment and Sports Programming Network (ESPN), the 2024 WNBA draft alone netted an average of 2.45 million viewers, and according to NBC News, the WNBA generated around 200 million dollars of revenue in the 2023 season. 

With the newfound attention from basketball fans, the WNBA is on the brink of a new era. According to Nielsen, a sports media company, over 18.9 million viewers watched the women’s National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) championship, the most-watched basketball event since 2019. However, despite these progressive strides, the WNBA still has lower attendance, revenue and viewership than the National Basketball Association (NBA). A possible solution to gain more publicity is to lower the rims, increase nationally televised content and improve sponsorships and appearances in advertisements. 

Illustration by Zach Dinowitz

The ESPN Press Room reported that the 2023 NBA playoffs had over ten times more viewers than the 2023 WNBA playoffs, and a facet of this discrepancy may be the lack of dunking. The average height of a WNBA player is about six feet, compared to the NBA’s average height of about six feet six inches. Yet, the rim height for these leagues remains constant despite this difference. This disparity in opportunities is not only unfair but also hampers the growth of the WNBA. Lowering the rims would help increase the entertainment that the WNBA may provide, hopefully correlating with increased viewership. 

Unlike the NBA, the WNBA also has lesser quality and quantity of coverage for each game. ESPN’s game schedule shows that every one of the NBA’s games from May 21-31 will be broadcasted on either ESPN, ABC or TNT, while just 67 percent of WNBA games from May 21-31 will be broadcasted on smaller sports platforms such as ION TV, MSN TV or Amazon Prime Video. If WNBA games could gain coverage on more popular platforms among sports fans, they would attain more viewers and contribute to more significant revenue streams from ticket sales and advertisements. 

Increasing advertisements highlighting the WNBA could increase publicity for the league as well. Many NBA players are often found in popular commercials on different platforms and during various television shows, such as Lebron James’s 21-year partnership with Nike and appearance in various Nike commercials and Jayson Tatum and Draymond Green’s commercial with Subway. On the other hand, WNBA players are rarely featured in television commercials or advertisements, making it hard for them to grow their brand and profit from it. If these players were featured more often in brand deal commercials and advertisements, it would lead them to earn more money, allowing the WNBA to invest in larger contracts. Golden State Warriors’ guard Chris Paul has been featured in numerous State Farm commercials, reaching over 100,000 views on Youtube, whereas State Farm’s commercial that featured a WNBA star, Arike Ogunbowale, amassed just 10 percent of Chris Paul’s views.

While the WNBA has had an increase in public awareness recently, it still receives a fraction of the views and revenue of the NBA, and it will take a plethora of improvements to diminish this disparity. These improvements include lower rims, frequent television coverage and advertisements featuring WNBA players. Taking action on all of these developments will result in progress towards more equality, not only between women’s and men’s sports but also between women’s and men’s wages in a multitude of professions for years to come. 

 

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About the Contributor
Mason Garbo
Mason Garbo, Reporter
Mason Garbo is a junior at Redwood High school and is a reporter for the Redwood Bark. He enjoys hanging with friends, basketball and listening to music.