Industry News

WNBA sets highest opening month attendance in 26 years

More than 400,000 fans attended Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) games from the beginning of the current season on May 14 to the end of the month.

This is the highest in 26 years, falling short of only the inaugural season in 1997. More than half of all the matches in May were sellouts, marking a 156% year-on-year increase in attendances.

Games averaged 1.32m viewers across all television network partners, which is nearly triple that of last season’s average of 462,000.

“What’s happening now in women’s basketball is confirmation of what we’ve always known: The demand is there, and women’s sports is a valuable investment,” said WNBA chief growth officer Colie Edison.

“We’re encouraged by growing engagement across all our verticals, especially as we welcome new and diverse audiences into our fandom.

“The WNBA continues to experience sustained growth as our league embraces this heightened momentum.”

The demographic of viewers gave reason to be optimistic for the next generation of players.

The opening week, labelled ‘Tip-off Week’, saw a 124% increase in under-35 viewership and a 139% growth in girls tuning in to watch.

Throughout Tip-off Week, four of the five moments that drove the most engagement on social media featured highlights of Indiana Fever’s Caitlin Clark, Chicago Sky’s Angel Reese, Los Angeles Sparks’s Cameron Brink or Las Vegas Aces’ Kate Martin.

WNBA merchandise sales are also seeing a 236% increase year-over-year, with Clark, Reese and Brink ranking in the top five for jersey sales during the first week of the season.

“The growth of diverse audiences is also resulting in deepened and more frequent single-user engagement across digital platforms,” read a WNBA statement.

“WNBA App monthly active users is up 613% year-over-year, and League Pass subscriptions more than tripled in the first two weeks of the season with the highest average minutes watched in league history.”