Aja Wilson Las Vegas Aces May 27, 2023; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Las Vegas Aces forward Aja Wilson (22) reacts during the second quarter against the Los Angeles Sparks at Michelob Ultra Arena. Mandatory Credit: Lucas Peltier-USA TODAY Sports

As the WNBA increases its presence on national television, the league announced viewership was up 21 percent in the regular season across ABC, ESPN and CBS.

Average viewership was up 8 percent, indicating the WNBA’s broadcast partners are increasing the total games they air. The league said it had the most total unique viewers since 2008.

Specifically, the ABC broadcasts averaged more than 600,000 viewers, most since the 2011 season. The All-Star Game on ABC peaked at nearly 1 million viewers, the most since 2007.

The WNBA Draft on ESPN preseason peaked at 572,000 viewers, the most since 2004.

Perhaps most interesting is the success of WNBA games on ION and Prime Video. The league struck those deals in recent seasons to expand beyond its (sometimes restrictive) deal with ESPN.

ION games were viewed for a total of 14 million hours, the league said. Broadcasts often averaged 200-300,000 viewers and out-rated other sports on ION such as LIV Golf.

The WNBA Commissioner’s Cup Championship Game was the most-viewed WNBA game ever to air on Prime Video.

It’s worth noting viewership metrics for games on CBS Sports Network as well as Prime Video are not subject to Nielsen ratings measurements. The WNBA made these deals to expand its reach and generate additional revenue, but they are unique for a fledgling league.

Still, with so many new broadcast platforms and windows and increased viewership everywhere, this regular season signaled clear growth for the WNBA and its partners. The league seemed to capitalize on the massive audience generated by LSU, Iowa and the NCAA women’s tournament.

The WNBA-ESPN deal expires in 2025, at which point the league will look to capitalize on booming viewership with a more lucrative set of TV rights deals.


About Brendon Kleen

Brendon is a Media Commentary staff writer at Awful Announcing. He has also covered basketball and sports business at Front Office Sports, SB Nation, Uproxx and more.