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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Amazon’s Thursday Night Fever: Banking on Caitlin Clark’s Impact

  • Indiana will play on Prime Video three times in seven weeks.
  • Clark continues to be a draw for WNBA broadcasters.
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Caitlin Clark makes her home debut for the Indiana Fever on Thursday night in a matchup against the New York Liberty that will also tip off Amazon’s 21-game slate of exclusive WNBA broadcasts this season. No team will be featured on Prime Video more times than the Fever over the next seven weeks, as Indiana’s three appearances on Amazon in May and June are tied for a league high, along with the Liberty and Chicago Sky.

Amazon, which signed a multiyear media-rights extension with the WNBA ahead of the season, will be hoping for audiences like the Fever drew Tuesday night, when 2.12 million people tuned in to Clark’s professional debut on ESPN2. That was ​​the league’s most-viewed game in 23 years, and the most-watched WNBA game on ESPN platforms ever, including the playoffs.

Specific viewership figures for WNBA games on Prime Video last season were not released, but the league and streamer did say that the 2023 Commissioner’s Cup final on Amazon doubled the audience from the ’22 championship game broadcast on the platform. Despite the lack of reported numbers, Amazon was still able to bring on AT&T as a sponsor of its WNBA streams this year.

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Amazon’s early-season strategy of relying on hype around Clark is a league-wide trend. The Fever’s first four games are being nationally televised or streamed, with Scripps Sports’ over-the-air channel Ion and ABC getting the next cracks at Indiana broadcasts this weekend.

Meanwhile, the Atlanta Dream just became the third team to use a home game against the Fever as a chance to sell even more tickets. Two Indiana-Atlanta games scheduled at 3,500-seat Gateway Center Arena at College Park will now be played June 21 and Aug. 26 at State Farm Arena, the home of the NBA’s Hawks, which holds nearly 17,000 fans for basketball. Previously, the Las Vegas Aces and Washington Mystics announced home games against the Fever would move to venues with larger capacities in their markets.

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