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Caitlin Clark Continues to be Enormous Box Office for the WNBA

  • Clark and Reese delivered the WNBA’s best broadcast in 23 years on any network.
  • The Fever and Sky are far from the league’s best teams but draw some of the biggest audiences.
The Indianapolis Star

Sunday’s Chicago Sky–Indiana Fever matchup on CBS drew the largest audience for a WNBA game on any network in 23 years, the network said Tuesday. A whopping average of 2.25 million viewers, and a peak of nearly 3 million, tuned in for the eight-point Indiana victory, the team’s fifth of the season.

The Fever and Sky are far from the league’s best teams, currently sitting eighth and ninth, respectively, in the 12-team league. But it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know why this game drew such an audience: the rookies.

For newer WNBA fans carried over from women’s college hoops, every Fever-Sky game is a rematch of the 2023 national championship between Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese. Not only are the two playing significant minutes for their teams, but they’re also feeding viewers with all the drama they’re used to from the rivals. Passionate South Carolina fans have also joined the party with second-year Aliyah Boston playing for Indiana and rookie Kamilla Cardoso on the Sky, a reminder of both the intense ’23 Final Four game and ’24 national championship between the Hawkeyes and Gamecocks. This year, a Fever-Sky game is like March Madness all over again.

This was the second showdown between the two teams this season, with both games played on a weekend day at noon E.T. The June 1 game drew 1.53 million viewers on ESPN, proving Sunday to be the more attractive time slot.

Clark had already broken the WNBA viewership record on ESPN2, ABC, ESPN, Ion, and NBA TV this season. The Liberty and Lynx had toppled the previous CBS rating in May with 704,000 viewers.

The ratings records keep falling as Clark has faced perhaps the most challenging month of her meteoric rise. The Fever have struggled amid a jam-packed schedule, and she wasn’t selected for the Olympic team. She’s continued to be one of the main characters of American sports, as her fans have loudly complained about her full-contact welcome to the league, which in turn led to media members and WNBA players calling on Clark to acknowledge some of the language her fans have spewed at her opponents. Clark hasn’t complained about the rough play, other than calling one shove “not a basketball play,” and after initially avoiding the topic, she has since said people should not use her name to push harmful agendas. Despite all of this—or perhaps because of it—Clark remains tremendously popular.

Clark, Reese, Cameron Brink, and others are drawing massive crowds and notable celebrities to watch the league’s lower-ranked teams. Take one scroll through the social media pages of the Seattle Storm and Las Vegas Aces, two of the league’s more dominant teams, and one will find massive engagement on posts of rookies Nika Mühl and Kate Martin, who are far from their team’s best players but have instantly become fan favorites.

One month into the season, Clark and the rest of the rookie class continue to make sizable business strides for the league.

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