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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

WNBA ASG Shines in Primetime Debut, Draws Largest Audience in 16 Years

  • WNBA All-Star Game drew 850,000 average viewers — a 16% increase from 2022 and the most-watched edition in 16 years.
  • The game broadcast peaked at 955,000 viewers.
Team Wilson guard Chelsea Gray controls the ball against Team Stewart frontcourt Brittney Griner during the first half in the 2023 WNBA All-Star Game from Las Vegas.
Lucas Peltier-USA TODAY Sports

The WNBA’s All-Star festivities in Las Vegas continued women’s basketball’s upward trend on television.

In its first-ever primetime slot on ABC, Saturday’s WNBA All-Star Game drew 850,000 average viewers — a 16% increase from 2022 and the most-watched edition in 16 years. The game broadcast peaked at 955,000 viewers and 986,000 watched the pregame show.

“The All-Star Game definitely contributes just to the overall general excitement about women’s basketball,” two-time All-Star Satou Sabally of the Dallas Wings said. “It shows that women’s basketball is fun and exciting to watch, and future partnerships and marketing opportunities definitely arrive from that as well.

The WNBA All-Star Skills Challenge — which featured a dazzling, record-breaking performance from the New York Liberty’s Sabrina Ionescu in the 3-Point Contest — averaged 288,000 viewers on ESPN, a 43% increase from the 2022 event that re-aired on ESPN2.

While airing the contest live on the main ESPN feed was a step in the right direction, the network still drew criticism for putting it in an unenviable Friday 4 p.m. ET slot, meaning many viewers missed Ionescu’s historic 37-point performance.

Still, it’s more positive momentum in what could be women’s basketball’s best year.

The WNBA’s games on ESPN averaged 546,000 viewers in the first half of the season, an 18% increase from the same time in 2022.

In the college game, the women’s national championship between LSU and Iowa drew an average of 9.9 million viewers to become by far the most-watched women’s college basketball game of all time. Every round of Women’s March Madness saw double-digit year-over-year percentage increases in viewership.

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