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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Caitlin Clark and the Fever to Receive Even More TV Coverage

  • The WNBA team is placing 17 games on over-the-air stations in the Indianapolis area.
  • The deal taps into a fast-rising interest among many pro teams in over-the-air TV exposure.
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Caitin Clark is showing once more that the WNBA economy developing around here holds few limits. 

One week after the Iowa superstar was drafted by the Fever with the No. 1 pick—fueling record ratings for the WNBA draft and meteoric rises in ticket sales—the team struck a deal Monday with Tegna to place 17 of the team’s games on the media company’s over-the-air stations in Indianapolis. Those games, beginning with a May 16 contest against the 2023 league runner-up Liberty, will be shown on either WTHR, the NBC affiliate, or WALV, the MeTV affiliate. 

Dominating National Games

Even before the Fever selected Clark, 36 of the team’s 40 games were slated for national broadcast, with those games split between NBA rightsholders ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, Ion, NBA TV, Amazon Prime Video, and CBS Sports Network. The Tegna deal expands that reach locally, and also includes the four games that hadn’t been scheduled to air. The company added that it is working “with additional broadcast companies in the coming weeks to expand free over-the-air access to all available television markets outside of Indianapolis” as the interest in watching Clark continues to grow.

“This is an exhilarating moment for women’s sports. The WNBA and Fever are leading the charge with this groundbreaking local broadcast rights agreement,” said Dave Lougee, Tegna president and CEO. “The remarkable journey of Caitlin Clark and her teammates has captured the hearts and minds of millions.”

Embracing Over-the-Air Broadcasts

Several WNBA teams already have robust local broadcast coverage, particularly on regional sports networks, and the Fever last year had 10 games on Bally Sports Indiana and another 23 on the team Facebook page. But in addition to tapping further into the fervent interest around Clark, the Fever’s Tegna deal extends a fast-rising trend among teams embracing over-the-air broadcasts to reach cord-cutter and cord-never consumers. 

The NBA’s Suns and Jazz broadcast all of their local games on free television, as do the WNBA’s Mercury and NHL’s Golden Knights. The newly relocated NHL Utah franchise similarly shifted to over-the-air television in its prior form as the Coyotes, and is expected to continue on that path. 

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