Turner Taps Into WNBA’s Potential As Season Tips Off

    • The WNBA is celebrating its 25th season this year.
    • Bleacher Report and parent company Turner Sports are celebrating by investing in women’s sports coverage.

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Roughly 4% of sports coverage is dedicated to women’s sports, but Bleacher Report found that 84% of sports fans are interested in them. A recent report from Deloitte expects TV and sponsorship revenue for women’s sports to soon eclipse $1 billion globally.

“We saw the numbers and thought, why wouldn’t we invest in this?” Ann Lutzenkirchen, senior producer of Turner Sports/Bleacher Report told Front Office Sports.

Turner — which includes WNBA champion Candace Parker among its talent — will broadcast a weekly show with Atlanta Dream owner Renee Montgomery on NBA TV and collaborate with Nike on merch celebrating the season. In Nike’s final earnings report of 2020, the company said its women’s category was growing faster than the its overall business.

Media investments in women’s sports are on the rise.

  • Amazon just secured exclusive global streaming rights to 16 WNBA games each season in a multiyear deal, strengthening Prime Video’s push into live sports.
  • ESPN and the WNBA are releasing an ESPN Films and “30 for 30” documentary about the WNBA’s 2020 season, executive produced by L.A. Sparks player Chiney Ogwumike.
  • Kevin Durant recently backed a $3.5 million funding round for multimedia company Just Women’s Sports.
  • Olympians Sue Bird, Alex Morgan, Simone Manuel, and Chloe Kim launched women-focused media and e-commerce destination TOGETHXR in March.

The 2021 WNBA season officially tips off with four games Friday, starting with Indiana Fever at New York Liberty. Last year’s No. 1 draft pick Sabrina Ionescu — who has a Nike deal of her own — is expected to return for NY after missing most of her rookie season with an ankle injury.

Average viewership of WNBA games was up 68 percent in 2020 thanks in part to more broadcasts across ESPN, CBS, Twitter, and Facebook.