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Sunday, July 14, 2024

Nearly Every WNBA Broadcaster Has Set a Ratings Record This Season

  • Six networks have seen their most-watched WNBA games ever.
  • All but one of those telecasts featured Caitlin Clark.
Grace Hollars-USA TODAY Sports

Imagine a sports league is drawing up a game plan to set a bevy of new viewership marks across nearly all its broadcast partners. It’s highly unlikely they would plan to rely on a rookie leading a team with a lone victory and the second-worst record in that league one-fifth of the way through the season.

But that’s reality for the WNBA, which simply can’t stop drawing record TV audiences this month. It began with Caitlin Clark’s debut, which was the league’s most-viewed game in 23 years, and hasn’t slowed down since. Over Memorial Day weekend, three more networks drew their biggest WNBA audiences ever, and it wasn’t even all due to Clark, according to Sports Media Watch.

Spreading the Ball Around

So far, six different TV networks have broadcast the most-watched WNBA games ever on their channels, respectively:

  • ESPN2: Fever at Sun, May 14, 2.1 million
  • ABC: Fever at Liberty, May 18, 1.71 million
  • ESPN: Sun at Fever, May 20, 1.56 million
  • Ion: Fever at Sparks, May 24, 724,000
  • CBS: Liberty at Lynx, May 25, 704,000
  • NBA TV: Fever at Aces, May 25, 333,000

ABC also averaged 1.34 million viewers for Sparks at Aces on May 16, the network’s third-highest WNBA audience of all time. Indiana and Clark have also played one game on Amazon Prime Video, which doesn’t release viewership figures, and one game not on national TV. CBS gets its first crack at a Fever game June 16, and ESPN has multiple games featuring Clark in July, when there will be no NBA or NHL to compete with.

Even More Ahead?

Despite the phenomenon that is Caitlin Clark and the overall increased interest in the league, more work remains to be done in order to set all-time WNBA viewership records. No game this season has cracked the league’s top 10 broadcasts, which feature audiences between 2.46 million and 5.04 million on NBC in the WNBA’s inaugural season and early years.

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