Heading into the playoffs, the WNBA is riding a decade and a half high.
Per a Tuesday release from ESPN, the 25 WNBA games on Disney platforms (ABC, ESPN, ESPN2) averaged 372,000 viewers, the best mark for the league since 2008.
Additionally, the league closed the regular season with a significant day of viewership on ABC. The first half of Sunday’s doubleheader, Minnesota-Connecticut, drew 682,000 viewers, while the second half, Seattle-Las Vegas, averaged 852,000 viewers. The late game was the WNBA’s most-watched game since May 17, 2008, and the early game was the fifth most-watched WNBA game since the 2012 season.
And while out of home viewership is included in these figures, which it wasn’t prior to 2019, the numbers compare favorably to some other live sports over the last week. The late game outdrew a UFC Fight Night event in primetime on ESPN Saturday (797,000) and the Top Rank boxing event that followed it (790,000). Both games also topped the Barcelona-Rayo Vallecano match on ABC Saturday afternoon (584,000) and beat four of the six Premier League matches that aired on USA and NBC this past matchweek as well as the MLS All-Star Game in primetime Wednesday on ESPN (334,000).
I’d be interested to see what happens with viewership for the upcoming WNBA Playoffs, and if that leads to more games airing on ESPN’s networks when it’s time for the WNBA to negotiate new TV deals. Only 25 regular season games aired on ABC, ESPN, and ESPN2 this season, with a bunch more airing on CBS Sports Network, Facebook, NBA TV, and Prime Video.