by Angeline Seames
With it being the 20th Anniversary of the WNBA, the program is targeting a new branding effort. A drop in viewership and the lowest attendance rate since the beginning of the WNBA.
The WNBA had an average 7,318 fans a game, which is down 3.4 percent from last season and the lowest in the leagues history. Not only did attendance watching the game live fall, but viewership also fell by 14 percent (an average of 202,000 viewers). ESPN and ESPN 2 aired 11 games during the regular season, while NBA TV televised over 40 games and the rest covered by ABC. Over the past the years the WNBA attendance has had its ups and downs starting off in 1997 with 9,662 average of attendance and then a 12.4 percent increase of 10,864 average attendance, which was the highest ever in the WNBA in 1998.
Compared to the NBA, TV this season increased 8 percent to a an average of 56,000 viewers from the 52,000 last season. Media wise, WNBA.com grew by 26 percent, Instagram followers were up 51 percent and 9 million likes and followers across all social media.
The biggest drop in the WNBA was made by the San Antonio Stars, with an 8-26 record in the WNBA and a 37 percent drop in attendance compared to last year. With this the Stars were forced to relocate because of the team’s home court being renovated. While the Phoenix Mercury led attendance for the WNBA with an average of 9,946 despite not having the biggest increase in attendance compared to the L.A. Sparks.
As the Phoenix Mercury WNBA team has come off multiple championship seasons, the WNBA and the head of business operations for the Mercury hope to build momentum and make fans want to attend all the games that the WNBA host. The WNBA hopes after the postseason in October to study whether they can eventually grow the league to bring in an expansion committee.
In the end, the WNBA will have to figure out how they are going to save the league from the drop of attendance and viewership all together. If not, the WNBA may have fewer teams playing, increased ticket prices, and the threat of doing away with the WNBA all together. Hopefully the WNBA will figure out a smart way to increase the WNBA brand all together and save the league.