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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

As Popularity Soars, WNBA Makes Bet With Broadcast Deal for Another League

  • Athletes Unlimited announced that 25 of 30 basketball games will be broadcast on WNBA League Pass this season.
  • The move is likely part of a strategy for the two entities to work to complement each other, rather than compete against one another.
Lucas Peltier-USA TODAY Sports

The WNBA is using its own platform to elevate the women’s professional basketball league run by Athletes Unlimited.

On Tuesday, the two entities announced that 25 of 30 Athletes Unlimited games will be broadcast on WNBA League Pass this season. Financial terms of the partnership were not disclosed.

CBS Sports Network will broadcast the five games not available on League Pass.

“With a number of WNBA players set to star in AU’s upcoming season, and with an additional group of talented, young players on AU rosters looking to make their mark, WNBA League Pass provides a terrific platform to further showcase these players and women’s basketball and a great leadup to the upcoming 2023 WNBA season,” WNBA Chief Growth Officer Colie Edison said in a statement.

The move is likely part of a strategy for the two women’s basketball leagues to complement and elevate each other, rather than compete against one another. 


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Athletes Unlimited is in its second year of running a five-week basketball season that will begin on Thursday, Feb. 23 in Dallas — coincidentally also the home of this year’s NCAA Division I Women’s Final Four. 

The league, in which 44 players rotate teams each week and utilize a personal points system, has been touted as an alternative for WNBA players to go overseas during the offseason. The top WNBA contracts are still below $250,000 — so international play is crucial for many players.

While Athletes Unlimited doesn’t offer salaries quite as high as some top overseas teams, it did offer players an average of $22,000 each in its inaugural season. It’s a valuable opportunity given that many players have begun to rethink international play since Phoenix Mercury star Brittney Griner was detained in Russia.

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