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Monday, May 27, 2024

Angel Reese’s WNBA Preseason Debut Racks Up Millions of Views on Phone Stream

  • A fan decided to stream it on X and it quickly became a trending sensation.
  • Players and coaches ripped the league for its mistake.
Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

Angel Reese’s WNBA debut drew an enormous audience—from a fan’s cellphone. 

The Chicago Sky’s Friday preseason game against the Minnesota Lynx was unavailable to the masses after the WNBA mistakenly said it was available on its League Pass service. So a random fan took matters into her own hands. 

Alli Schneider, who runs the X account @heyheyitsalli, offered to stream the game after seeing that it couldn’t be viewed on League Pass or YouTube. The result was two million views by Saturday (according to the app’s metrics), multiple shout-outs from the game’s legends such as Brittney Griner and Sue Bird as well as coaches using it to wonder whether the league can meet its biggest moment. 

“The growth is happening so fast, it’s so accelerated,” said Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve about the broadcast limits after the game. “Business as usual isn’t going to work anymore; you’re going to get left behind,” Reeve said about the league’s broadcasting limitations. “This is an example. … We have to capitalize on those things.”

Two million views—according to X’s self-reported metrics—on a stream that can be watched at any time isn’t the same as having as many average viewers on television. Game 4 of the 2023 Finals was watched by an average of 889,000 viewers, making it the league’s most-watched game in years. But the eye-popping numbers (more than 800,000 by midnight Friday) still show an appetite for the women’s game that the league failed to serve.

New York Liberty star Sabrina Ionescu didn’t hold back her thoughts on the situation when asked about it at the team’s media day Saturday. 

“I mean, it sucks,” Sabrina Ionescu said. “I think representation of every team is important. … Hopefully, the league can fix that because I think they dropped the ball on that part and hopefully they have a great explanation as to why that wasn’t televised. But hats off to the person that just figured it out.”

The mishap occurred while the WNBA is negotiating a new media-rights deal, in which it hopes to double its current deal, which pays the league $60 million. 

Minnesota won the game 92–81. Reese finished with 13 points and nine rebounds, while fellow rookie Kamilla Cardoso had six points and four rebounds off the bench for the Sky. 

The WNBA later apologized for its mistake on a post and used it as a way to promote Caitlin Clark’s preseason debut against the Dallas Wings, which was available on League Pass and sold out to more than 6,500 fans in Arlington. 

Schneider’s deed didn’t go unrewarded. In her postgame press conference, Reeve shouted out Schneider’s broadcast and said, “We should all send three bucks. Anybody who watched it should send three bucks.” Sure enough, Schneider tweeted her Cash App account out and replied that people were sending her money for her efforts. 

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