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WNBA Finals Opener Pitted Against First NFL Sunday

  • The WNBA has seen a 42% increase in viewership on ESPN this postseason compared with 2021.
  • The series opener is the first of potentially three games slated to air opposite NFL action.
Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

The WNBA has enjoyed another viewership upswing this postseason, the most-viewed playoffs since 2002.

But that trend now faces a big challenge: Game 1 of the WNBA Finals on ABC goes head-to-head Sunday against Week 1 of the NFL regular season — one of up to three times the Las Vegas Aces and the Connecticut Sun could compete for eyeballs against the behemoth that is The Shield. 

  • ESPN and WNBA work to avoid such conflicts, and last year’s finals didn’t begin until October.
  • The FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup — which starts later this month — contributed to a condensed WNBA schedule and made conflicts inescapable, those close to the schedule’s composition told Front Office Sports.

Even Mark Davis — the Las Vegas Raiders’ controlling owner who purchased the Aces last year and has been a regular at games since — has a choice to make. The Raiders kick off on the road against the Los Angeles Chargers about 80 minutes after Game 1 of the WNBA Finals tips off around noon local time on Sunday.

Beyond Current TV Deal

The WNBA receives $25 million per season through 2025 from its TV deal with ESPN. The next package is expected to result not only in a major rights fee bump, but also more freedom in scheduling. 

“The new deal will be crucial for the growth of the league, especially when it comes to gender pay equity,” said Khristina Williams, founder of Girls Talk Sports TV.

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