Is anyone watching the WNBA?

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The numbers are in for the WNBA season and while they are up year over year, they aren’t all that impressive.

The WNBA concluded its 12th regular season with increases in attendance — including a record-setting 46 sellouts — a 19% increase in TV ratings, and new records for traffic. In addition, the league formed new marketing partnerships with several leading companies including McDonald’s, Kia Motors and Pitney Bowes.

The Atlanta Dream ended its inaugural season with a slim three wins, but still managed to draw strong crowds and even host a few sellouts. Fan interest seemed to stay strong throughout the season.

But overall, while the league’s numbers were up for the regular season, they are quite small. Even more so when compared to the NBA. The didn’t go unnoticed by Cyd Zeigler, a co-founder of Outsports.

The League is touting an increase in ticket sales and TV viewership this season, which is nice. But then I looked at the numbers. The average rating of a WNBA game this season was 0.32 on ABC and ESPN2. That is shockingly low. Embarrassingly low. The number of average viewers? Up to 413,000. Last season, ESPN averaged over 1.4 million views for its NBA games, and ABC’s lowest average rating was a couple years ago with a 2.2. Who’s responsible for these much lower ratings?

Zeigler goes on to question who’s role it is to build viewership for the league.

I was in a conversation a couple months ago about this. Whose responsibility is it to build the WNBA’s viewership? Do ESPN and the sports pages of newspapers have a responsibility to promote women’s basketball? Is it up to the fans to support the league as hardcore as possible? Is it up to the League?


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