ESPN’s WNBA Draft Viewership Up 20% Over 2021

    • The WNBA Draft, held Monday on ESPN, averaged 403,000 viewers.
    • The 20% increase from last year’s draft represented the most viewers since 2004.

Women’s basketball has notched yet another viewership milestone — this time at the pro level.

The WNBA Draft, held Monday on ESPN, averaged 403,000 viewers, the network announced — a 20% increase from last year’s draft and the most since 2004. Draft coverage peaked at about 463,000 viewers.

The numbers demonstrate the league’s continued momentum with ratings and capital. Last year, WNBA regular-season viewership was up 49% compared with 2020, and 24% compared with 2019.

Going into this season, the league will also have more resources than ever before: In February, the WNBA announced a $75 million capital raise — valuing the league at $1 billion.

However, the way the league and teams plan to use those resources has caused controversy. 

Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said the funds will not be immediately used for athlete accommodations like charter flights. A few weeks later, the league came under fire for punishing the New York Liberty for providing that luxury to its players.

The viewership trajectory also builds on women’s March Madness which ended just last week. The entire tournament saw an average increase of 16% compared with 2021.