The WNBA’s 2022 season tips off Friday with arguably more momentum behind it than ever before — whether due to rising viewership or deeper pockets.
- The league’s 2022 draft, held last month, notched more than 400,000 viewers — 20% more than last year and a record since 2004.
- The trend follows a pattern of overall viewership growth during last year’s season.
- The WNBA also announced a $75 million capital raise in February, lifting the league’s total valuation to $1 billion.
The excitement comes, however, amid internal controversy.
Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said funds will not go toward immediately increasing player salaries or providing accommodations like charter flights. An SI report in March detailed how the New York Liberty were punished by the league for providing charter flights. Players expressed their outrage on social media.
Earlier this week, the Seattle Storm’s Breanna Stewart called for a CBA revision, decrying the lack of overall roster spots as rookies got cut.
A Somber Tone
However, the WNBA isn’t ignoring some of the more disturbing developments affecting its players.
The league announced all 12 teams’ courts would feature decals of the initials and No. 42 jersey of Phoenix Mercury star Brittney Griner, who has been detained in Russia since February.
The league also released a statement in support of reproductive rights after a draft of a Supreme Court decision was released earlier this week that, if codified, would overturn Roe v. Wade.