Angel Reese Chicago Sky Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

The budding rivalry between the Chicago Sky and Indiana Fever (and the more established rivalry between rookies Angel Reese and Caitlin Clark) continues to be a massive draw for the WNBA.

On Sunday, Chicago’s 88-87 win averaged 2.30 million viewers on ESPN, edging out the same matchup a week earlier on CBS to be the WNBA’s most-watched game in 23 years.

Despite the two teams languishing in the WNBA’s standings (both are under .500 and at the outer limits of the WNBA Playoffs), interest in watching the two teams face off has grown over the course of the season. Their first matchup on June 1 averaged 1.53 million viewers on ESPN, increasing to 2.252 million on June 16 and 2.30 million on June 23. It’s an undeniably positive trend for the league, and while Clark remains a massive draw, her rivalry with Reese is helping elevate the league as a whole.

After three matchups in June, the Fever and Sky will be spending most of the summer apart from each other. Their fourth, and final, regular season matchup isn’t scheduled until Friday, August 30 in a game that will air on Ion.

The Fever’s strong viewership isn’t limited to matchups with the Sky. Last Wednesday, a Fever win over the Washington Mystics averaged 460,000 viewers on NBA TV, a new WNBA record for the network (a record which has been broken four times already this season). Ion also claimed another viewership record on Friday night for the Fever’s win over the Atlanta Dream with an average audience of 1.18 million viewers.

The WNBA’s viewership data this season is stunning. Through just six weeks of the 2024 campaign, nine games have topped a million viewers. The league drew zero audiences of at least seven figures for a decade and a half before 2024. 13 games have set viewership records for their respective networks (including records that have since been broken), and 12 of those have involved the Fever and Clark. These viewership marks also don’t include games on Prime Video, which hasn’t reached data for its WNBA broadcasts this season, or CBS Sports Network, which is not Nielsen-rated.

To close out June, Prime Video will air Lynx-Liberty on Tuesday, June 25 and a doubleheader of Aces-Sky and Fever-Storm on Thursday, June 27. NBA TV airs Sun-Mysitcs on Thursday, June 27 and Wings-Storm on Saturday, June 29. Ion will air a Friday doubleheader of Dream-Sun and Sparks-Mercury on June 28, while ESPN airs a doubleheader of Dream-Liberty and Fever-Mercury on Sunday, June 30.

[Data via Sports Media Watch]

About Joe Lucia

I hate your favorite team. I also sort of hate most of my favorite teams.