WNBA has most-watched regular season in 21 years, up 21% over 2022

WNBA has most-watched regular season in 21 years, up 21% over 2022

After a terrific regular season, the 2023 WNBA Playoffs tip off tonight. This was a huge year for the WNBA, as the league just had its most-watched regular season in 21 years.

Viewership across its national television partners – ABC, CBS, ESPN and ESPN2 – was up 21% over the 2022 season. The league also set new highs in terms of its digital platforms, social-media engagement and sports betting. Here are some highlights from the 2023 campaign:

Across ABC, ESPN and CBS, viewership was up 8% over last season and averaged 505,000 viewers. The WNBA on ABC averaged 627,000 viewers, making it the most-viewed regular season on ABC in 11 years.

The 2023 regular season reached over 36 million total unique viewers across all national networks, the highest since 2008 and up 27% from 2022.

Across all WNBA social-media handles, the league generated a record 373 million video views this season, up 96% from the 2022 season. The 20 million total actions/engagements and 1.1 million hours watched increased by 65% and 42%, respectively, from last season.

The 2023 WNBA All-Star Game on ABC was the most-watched WNBA All-Star Game in 16 years, averaging 850,000 viewers with a peak of 955,000 viewers.

The 2023 WNBA Draft averaged 572,000 viewers on ESPN, up 42% over last year; it was the most-watched WNBA Draft since 2004.

The league introduced WNBA Friday Night Spotlight with new broadcast partner ION, where regular-season games were consumed for a total of 14 million hours.

The WNBA's attendance was up 16% compared to last year. The average attendance of 6,615 fans per game was the highest since 2018. The WNBA had its highest total attendance in 13 years (1,587,488).

The 2022 WNBA champion Las Vegas Aces saw the highest increase in average attendance (more than 66% year-over-year), averaging a league-high 9,551 fans per game. The Aces also hosted the highest-attended game this season, drawing a crowd of 17,406 against the Phoenix Mercury on September 10 on the final day of the regular season. 

Mercury All-Star Brittney Griner’s first home game in her return to the WNBA, against the Chicago Sky on May 21, drew 14,040 fans, third-highest for a WNBA game this season.

The first WNBA Canada Game, which saw the Sky defeat the Minnesota Lynx 82-74 in a preseason contest, was played before a sold-out crowd of approximately 20,000 fans at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto on May 13.

The WNBA's relaunched app with exclusive series, behind-the-scenes content and in-depth coverage saw downloads up nearly 400%. The league’s out-of-market live game package experienced 10% growth in subscribers this season.

The season-opening game featuring the New York Liberty at the Washington Mystics on May 13 had the highest viewership in WNBA League Pass history, up 107% from the previous record-setting game on the platform. Content consumption was up across digital channels with League Pass total views for the season up 257%, and the WNBA website had a 21% increase in average time spent per visit during the regular season.

On FanDuel Sportsbook, the number of bets on the WNBA more than doubled from last season. Individual bets on the marketplace increased by more than 163% year-over-year, and the WNBA handle was up more than 100%.

The WNBA launched the WNBABet tab, featuring content from many of the league’s partners, including FanDuel, ESPN, The Action Network, Rotowire and the American Gaming Association.

The 2023 WNBA Commissioner’s Cup Championship Game attracted the largest audience for a WNBA game ever for Prime Video, nearly doubling the viewership of last year’s Commissioner’s Cup Championship Game. The in-season competition saw the teams competing for a prize pool of more than $500,000. As part of the total prize pool, Coinbase provided a cryptocurrency bonus of $120,000 for players in the Championship Game.

The 2023 WNBA season was dedicated to women’s health advocacy, with a focus on Black, Brown and LGBTQ+ communities. Throughout the season, teams, players and the league highlighted four key pillars of women’s health: maternal health, mental health, reproductive health and cancer awareness and education. Through the 2023 WNBA Commissioner’s Cup, each WNBA team chose a local women’s health organization to play for, with $200,000 donated to both local and national non-profit organizations committed to raising awareness about these important women’s health equity issues.

Why were fans so engaged this season? On the court, there were quite a few unprecedented things that happened this season:

The Seattle Storm’s Jewell Loyd set a WNBA single-season record with 939 points.

The New York Liberty’s Breanna Stewart had a WNBA-record six games of at least 40 points. In total, WNBA players produced a record 13 40-point games, 10 more than the prior record of three.   

The Connecticut Sun’s Alyssa Thomas posted a record six triple-doubles and broke the single-season record for total assists (316).

WNBA players recorded a record 13 triple-doubles, six more than in 2022 (seven) and four more than in the league’s first 25 regular seasons combined (nine).

The Phoenix Mercury’s Diana Taurasi became the first player in WNBA history to score 10,000 career points.

The Las Vegas Aces’ A’ja Wilson became the fastest player in WNBA history to reach 3,500 points, 1,500 rebounds and 300 blocks.

New York’s Sabrina Ionescu set records for three-pointers made in the regular season (128) and points scored in a single round of the WNBA Three-Point Contest (37).

It's a great time to be a fan of the WNBA, and this postseason seems to be one of the most highly anticipated WNBA Playoffs of all-time.

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