The WNBA: Thread II

Cellar-Door

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Anyone else really surprised that no WNBA rookie has ever had a triple double before Clark did it? I had to do a double take on that story headline.
they are rare in the WNBA, Clark's was the 31st in league history, but 24 of those are in the last 3 seasons, seems like something fundamentally shifted in the league (higher scoring maybe? Faster pace?)

Edit-33, I missed that there are two triple doubles where one of the categories was blocks
 
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BigMike

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Anyone else really surprised that no WNBA rookie has ever had a triple double before Clark did it? I had to do a double take on that story headline.
Just had to look it up, there have only been 33 triple doubles in league history . Alyssa Thomas has 10, no one else has more than 4
 

BigSoxFan

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Just had to look it up, there have only been 33 triple doubles in league history . Alyssa Thomas has 10, no one else has more than 4
That’s pretty crazy. Wonder what is the driver here? Maybe the bigs gobble up all the rebounds?
 

Pablo's TB Lover

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Lol…at least then there were 2 players focused on?!

Please…read what I’ve written. I literally say her talent deserves to be written about…a lot. But some (any?) balance would be nice. That’s all.

Plus, this is a thread titled “The WNBA”, so pointing things out about other players should be embraced. I would have thought SoSH of all places, would enjoy a broader view.
Strong agree on the balance, but then again I have been a follower of the W since meeting my Connecticut Sun season ticketholder wife around 20 years ago. I would say a strong Clark season followed by a loss in the playoffs to a veteran player/team (Liberty? Sun?) who shows the real depth of the league is a good outcome. Clark doesn't necessarily need a VILLAIN like Reese, but a level of excellence to try and meet. Breanna Stewart is not super outspoken, but she went 23/9/4 during an MVP season last year and does not get a lot of attention. The narrative can be driven by many things on or off the court.
 

Pablo's TB Lover

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Frigging idiots: I ran into some click-baity article just re-hashing tweets complaining about a bunch of WNBA games starting near midday today (how am I going to catch Caitlin Clark at noon!!!). What the author (if it wasn't AI) failed to investigate is that in the Conn Sun's case and most of these other host teams, this is a YOUTH OUTREACH day. You know, invite kids from the nearby day camps to watch and get interested in their product. One side of their mouth: "Baseball has turned their back on kids by starting their playoff games so late, I remember when at least 1-2 of the championship series were afternoon games." Other side: "This one game a year the WNBA franchises play in the middle of workday is a great inconvenience for working people."
 

InstaFace

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That's funny. How awesome is that, inviting local camps to come watch? How cool would it be to play hooky from work for a day and bring your kid to a ballgame? Afternoon weekday baseball games with the kids are the absolute balls. I'm sure basketball is the same, minus the wind and sun and outdoor atmosphere of course.
 

amh03

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She is like an edgy Tim Duncan. I really have never understood how she hasn't taken off to be a huge celebrity.
”Celebrity” is tied to exposure and marketing deals can do a lot to increase that. A’ja somewhat addressed that this past May, when Nike announced it was putting out a signature shoe for her. When interviewed by the Associated Press, she agreed that white female athletes are seen as more marketable than black female athletes. In her experience, she found she needed to achieve incredible success in the WNBA before corporations would offer high level sponsorship deals. Her shoe deal is the first for a black female player since 2010.
 

BaseballJones

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Wilson is pretty incredible. Right now the best women's player in the world. And she has the Aces absolutely rolling (getting Chelsea Gray back has been enormous for them too). Since their 6-6 start, they've gone 10-1 over their last 11, including two impressive wins over Seattle and one over Connecticut. They're back to being probably the best actual team in the WNBA, despite being in third place currently.

The Sun, meanwhile, find themselves in the place I did not want them to be in - with the very real possibility/probability of having to go through both LV and NY to win the title. And that's not something they can pull off.

1. NY 20-4 --
2. CT 18-5 - 1.5
3. LV 16-7 - 3.5
4. Min 16-8 - 4.0
5. Sea 16-8 - 4.0

CT would handle either Min or Sea in the semifinals, but instead they're likely to face LV, which means their season almost certainly ends in the semis. They just don't have enough juice to get past either LV or NY. Maybe - MAYBE - they could beat one of them in a short series but getting past both of them? No way.

My WNBA power rankings go: NY (have to give it to them based on overall record, even though I think LV is actually the best team right now), LV, CT, Min, Sea
 

reggiecleveland

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”Celebrity” is tied to exposure and marketing deals can do a lot to increase that. A’ja somewhat addressed that this past May, when Nike announced it was putting out a signature shoe for her. When interviewed by the Associated Press, she agreed that white female athletes are seen as more marketable than black female athletes. In her experience, she found she needed to achieve incredible success in the WNBA before corporations would offer high level sponsorship deals. Her shoe deal is the first for a black female player since 2010.
I mean more in terms of the previous WNBA famous like LIsa Leslie, Diana Taurasi who have been pretty famous. Perhaps she has been overshadowed by the popularity of the college game. The best players in women's college stay in school so the college game is much easier to market than the men's game. The women's final four feature seniors who are leaders in the wnba's rookie of the year award. The marketing thing rings hollow since the NBA has poured millions upon millions into the WNBA promotion. The WNBA has done well in the context that it is a summer league, It has the biggest fan support of any summer league. The WNBA has of course consistently shot itself in the foot by complining about wages in a leagie that loses money (until now maybe) and the jealous rejectiopn by many of their cash cow.

I am not sold on race being the reason since Serena is still the most famous female athlete. Coco Grauf made 15 million in endorsements last year. In terms of endorsement money it seems the most important thing for a female athlete is to be American or Chinese. A'ja would have been better served by having Clark come off the bench of team USA and all the new fans that tuned in to watch Caitlin see how much better player A'ja really is.
 

amh03

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Race absolutely has had an impact on coverage…in 2020, A’ja was the league MVP but received half as much media coverage as Sabrina Ionescu, a #1 draft pick that year who only played 3 games due to injuries.

Serena is as well known (rightfully so) because of her wins. During her career, she faced a ton of negative press and much of it was race-related.

Hopefully more eyes on the WNBA will help shine a light on these deserving players…
 

reggiecleveland

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Race absolutely has had an impact on coverage…in 2020, A’ja was the league MVP but received half as much media coverage as Sabrina Ionescu, a #1 draft pick that year who only played 3 games due to injuries.

Serena is as well known (rightfully so) because of her wins. During her career, she faced a ton of negative press and much of it was race-related.

Hopefully more eyes on the WNBA will help shine a light on these deserving players…
I would like to see the data that Sabrina had twice as much media that year. That people responded to her more favorably I would believe. Also as I explained a female three point shooter compares visually well to a male three point shooter, but a female forward does not compare well in video to a male forward who is dunking, etc. College women's ball has come closer to catching up to the male game than the WNBA and it wasn't close until this year. It is similar to Oscar Robinson being more famous than Russell while in college. Wilt was enraged by the fact that while his Sixers finally dethroned the Celtics in 1967 this kid in UCLA was getting more press. The college game was bigger than the NBA then, and the college game has been bigger than the WNBA the last 5 years at least. If the WNBA was smart they would have both Reese and Clark on the Olympic team since they face no real competition and it would help the league explode. In the NBA it happened in reverse. Dr J and the ABA merger got the NBA more notice just in time for Magic and Larry.

I think Serena and Caitlin Clark have more in common since they are in sport generally considered the realm of the other race. I fully admit Charlamagne tha God explained this theory before I realized it. The person that doesn't fit the mold becomes more popular. He mentioned Beyonce did country and it was a great move for her because it followed that idea. Yao Ming opened up a market worth so much to the NBA that Lebron dare not offend it. I don't think Caitlin Clark is as good an athlete as Serena or as charismatic, so I doubt she reaches that level though.
 

amh03

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@reggiecleveland - from this Article -

Risa F. Isard, a research fellow with the Laboratory of Inclusion and Diversity in Sport at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, Massachusetts, teamed up with Dr. E. Nicole Melton who is an associate department chair and associate professor at UMass-Amherst to produce a groundbreaking research study on the media coverage of the WNBA.
Here’s another Article discussing the study and this one is authored by Isard & Melton.
 

reggiecleveland

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I am not convinced when they do not describe criteria for choosing the articles. The fact Sabrina was shooting against Curry would generate more stories since it was an NBA story too. The writers would seem more credible if they mentioned that and even wondered if she got that opportunity based on race. That reason alone it is not entirely credible. If we look now Sabrina, with no NBA all star weekend event is way behind the others. A'ja stats were just posted and Angel Reese is getting more ink.

Google news results right now
Angel Reese 13,800
Caitlin Clark 58,000
A'Ja Wilson 9,990
Sabrina 779
 

amh03

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Ebony and Sports Business Journal found them credible enough at the time. Current stats would certainly be different.

It’s clear you don’t think race has anything to do with why A’ja “hasn’t taken off to be a huge celebrity”…I think others have a different view and shared some examples…that’s all…
 

reggiecleveland

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My comparison to Duncan is apt since he also did not get the acclaim he earned. I mean Kobe was half the player and played at the same time and is a god. I repeat I think it is more sexism. People want a brash aggressive male athlete not the quiet circumspect Duncan, and are less resceptive to the female Kevin Garnett. Serena became a fashion icon, and has charisma to burn, but faced morer backlash for temper outbursts than a male player. Maybe A'ja is just too hard. Sadly in the world of female athletes Serena being beautiful was a big help for her endorements. A'ja is also from a college with less national fanbase than Uconn, Tennesee , etc. Lastly there in tennis there is nationalism involved Serena was mostly beating foreigners while A'ja's olymoic team will win in a boring blowout fashion. It is hard for to explain how disliked the American women's basketball and soccer teams are outside of the USA compoared to the men's team. LAuren Jackson was a white WNBA MVP, but also not from USA, she didn't burn up madison avenue either.

I think race is a factor in that people like athletes that look like them. There is a mountain of evidence that people not seeing their ethnicity in film, commercials, etc is a negative. A'ja is a player that appeals to hardcore hoops fans, which was mostly all the WNBA had until this year. It was not a league that appealed to women especially young women, and especially conservative white women the way college hoops has in the past. For the numbers to really be as bad for A'ja as they are in ads, etc she has to less popular with black fans that expected too. She hasn't been the backlash face in the Caitlin Clark storm. And her names comes up with almost every resentful talking head compliaing about Clark's attention. Griner seemed to capture attention more even before she went to jail, but she dunked a few times in games. The WNBA has not been successful marketing itself, and no surpise the best players is underappreciated. KIa Nurse is my favorite WNBA player because she is from Canada.

I don't think black fans that were excited when Doug Williams won a superbowl were racist, they were just happy to see somebody that looked like them accomplish something. College women's hoops has been building for a decade and CC hit the right moment. The Raptors tried hard to get an Italian player in their early days due to the large Italian population in TO. Fernandomania wasn't racist though driven by Hispanic fans.
 

amh03

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There‘s definitely something to the “they look like me” you describe…a May 2024 LA Times article discusses that. But just slicing back to your original question as to why A’ja hasn’t seen a higher profile, here are her words -

A lot of people may say it’s not about Black and white, but to me, it is,” Las Vegas forward A’ja Wilson, a two-time WNBA champion and two-time MVP, told the Associated Press.

You can be top-notch at what you are as a Black woman, but yet maybe that’s something that people don’t want to see. They don’t see it as marketable, so it doesn’t matter how hard I work. It doesn’t matter what we all do as Black women, we’re still going to be swept underneath the rug. That’s why it boils my blood when people say it’s not about race because it is.
Here’s the full Article and they also reference that UMass study.
 

splendid splinter

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I think the Duncan comparison is pretty apt as well. A'ja is an incredible basketball player, a scoring and rebounding machine, and a great defensive player. But to the kind of casual fan you need to "win over" to raise your profile, rebounds don't matter, defense doesn't matter (much, highlight blocks are nice), and being nigh unstoppable in the post or on turnaround mid-range jumpers isn't exciting. Most people are accustomed to the NBA game, where there are three truly exciting plays - 3s, dunks, and sweet passes. The WNBA game is played below the rim so dunk are out. A'ja isn't two-hand tomahawking the ball when she beats her defender on a spin move. An appreciation of the quickness, power and footwork she shows in working to the glass for a layup is beyond the abilities of Joe and Jane Sixpack fan. She shoots the 3 fairly well (39% this year) but she doesn't take many. She makes some sweet passes but she only averages 2.5 assists per game so she's not going to shine there. Ionescu does something that fans find exciting, as does Clark. They play the kind of game that casual fans find exciting. A'ja, for all her talents and numbers really is more like Duncan, and when one of your NBA comps is a guy whose nickname was "The Big Fundamental" that doesn't scream marketability.

It's undeniable that race is a factor here, both negatively and neutrally. There are people who just can't bring themselves to admire a black female athlete, or who take delight in a white female athlete showing out against black players. And there are people who just gravitate toward players they identify with. That's no doubt part of the reason Ionescu and Clark are so popular, and the "identifiability" part isn't horrible (even if it is disappointing), just natural. Still, I think a decent chunk of the issue for A'ja is that casual fans can't appreciate her game the way basketball junkies can.
 

amh03

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I would agree with you, @splendid splinter but I would also add that casual fans can't appreciate her, in part, because they don't see her (or others who look like her) anywhere but on the court...at least in the past. If you start to see some of these players in more ads (i.e. increased sponsorship relationships) or, as in the original example about putting out a signature shoe, it does elevate them and they would become more recognizable.

I definitely think that's improving. Having A'ja on the cover of 2K25 will certainly bring more eyes to her game. And (as I've said in previous posts) my hope is that some of the new (Caitlin?) fans will become fuller WNBA fans as they start to become more informed. Clearly, you & @reggiecleveland are much more knowledgeable basketball/WNBA fans than these newer viewers and have a totally different appreciation for the game and players.
 

reggiecleveland

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I was a player in the 80s and 90s and the WNBA is closer to the style I played (post ups, no flopping, attempts to intimidate, set plays, etc) than the NBA. It is sad to see that the type of players we love in the men's game (Angel Reese, A'ja, NaLyssa Smith) tough heart on the sleeve forwards are not appreciated.

I think Juju Watkins may surpass Caitlin Clark and break down some of the barriers of the aggressive female player. Not only does she have game, but she has personality and style to be as big as anybody. I think Caitlin Clark may be Dr. J to her Bird. I mean that the ABA merger and Dr J got people excited about the NBA and Bird and Magic showed up.
 

OCST

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Saw the Liberty beat the Sun tonight, 82-74. Terrific game. Sold out crowd, place was jumping. Liberty were blistering hot in the first quarter, scoring 28. CT trailed throughout, but not by much, tied the game a few times late but never could get into the lead.

Liberty offense is great to watch. Ball movement, backdoor cuts, around the horn, it’s a coach’s dream. Jones’ passing out of the low post is terrific.

Really glad that my daughters CC fandom led us to this league- we’re all enjoying it.
 

amh03

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Yea…the Sun need to figure some things out. With Stewart resting for the game, I would have hoped the Sun could have had a better outcome. Well played by the Liberty.

And how about that Sky/Aces game? The Sky had control pretty much the whole game. Carter with a career high night…they have to be feeling pretty good heading into the break.
 

BaseballJones

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Yea…the Sun need to figure some things out. With Stewart resting for the game, I would have hoped the Sun could have had a better outcome. Well played by the Liberty.

And how about that Sky/Aces game? The Sky had control pretty much the whole game. Carter with a career high night…they have to be feeling pretty good heading into the break.
At first glance, it would seem that the Sun have enough to win vs. LV or NY - they've got one Olympian (Thomas) and two all-stars (Bonner and Jones) along with two up-and-coming and vastly improving guards (Carrington and Harris). But when you really think about it, all those guys are steps down from what the other two teams have AND their bench is much weaker.

NY: Stewart is better than Thomas, and you could argue that Ionescu - and maybe even J Jones - are too. For sure Ionescu and J Jones are better than Bonner and B Jones. And their other players are much deeper, as Vandersloot is a real pro and Laney-Hamilton is terrific.

LV: Best player in the league in Wilson, and Plum and Chelsea Gray are as good as Thomas is (or very close). Then you throw in Jackie Young and Clark and oh, just for fun they added Tiffany Hayes, who isn't a stud anymore but she's still a really nice piece to bring in off the bench, much better than what CT can put in.

CT needs one more really, really good player. Losing Jonquel Jones for nothing hurt really badly. I love Olivia Nelson-Ododa personally (she's a really great person) and she's fine for big depth, but when she goes in, she gets eaten up by NY and LV. I don't know how CT can get that next tremendous player without also giving up one of their great players. They're in a very difficult spot roster-wise.

They're obviously better than everyone else in the WNBA, but also clearly not as good as LV and NY. And there's no easy way for them to take that next step.
 

amh03

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I agree, @BaseballJones...how do you think Thomas would do if she ended up having surgery on her torn labrums? I realize that would result in an interruption for her, but I can't imagine that doesn't have some impact on what she can do. It's actually pretty remarkable she's as effective as she is with those....

That all said, aren't there some vulnerabilities with LV? They just didn't look very good last night against the Sky (42-21 at the half?). They did come back and actually took a short lead in the 4th but couldn't hold on. Certainly have to give credit to the Sky for being as focused as they were.
 

BaseballJones

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I agree, @BaseballJones...how do you think Thomas would do if she ended up having surgery on her torn labrums? I realize that would result in an interruption for her, but I can't imagine that doesn't have some impact on what she can do. It's actually pretty remarkable she's as effective as she is with those....

That all said, aren't there some vulnerabilities with LV? They just didn't look very good last night against the Sky (42-21 at the half?). They did come back and actually took a short lead in the 4th but couldn't hold on. Certainly have to give credit to the Sky for being as focused as they were.
LV will have lulls but they’re a monster team when they’re playing right. Tough to beat them in a whole series.

The Thomas question is a good one. I think she’s just decided to play with it and deal with it. Two torn labrums. Crazy. She’s as tough an athlete as I’ve ever seen, male or female. She’s also a tremendous player. But she can’t take over a game when the team needs a bucket. She’s a secondary scorer. Teams leave her wide open from 12 feet and she won’t shoot. Angel Reese-like in that regard.
 

LA_33

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They were probably a half-step below the Sun all along, in that tier beneath LV/NY, and they've fallen off since their MVP candidate Phee Collier went out with an injury.

But the roster that the Lynx put together this year, and how well they were playing when everyone was available, is fascinating to me.

They're the first modern-NBA-style 5-out roster that I can remember in the WNBA, with two cetners they rotate in Alanna Smith and Dorka Juhasz, who are both mobile shot blockers and high volume 3-point shooters.

Adding Courtney Williams, who's been a perfect fit for them at the point despite starting to seem over the hill to me the past season or two, has also given them a little bit of Nash-Suns feel (with Phee sort of in the Amare role, although she's a much better shooter than Amare ever was).

They committed to playing 5-out to the point that they traded the pick that Chicago ultimately used on Angel Reese, when it was clear that's the spot she was likely to land in the draft, seemingly because the Lynx weren't going to take her anyway, preferring a bowling ball combo forward who's a good shooter off the bench for them, in Alissa Pili (if she develops into a starter, she'll be a big star in Minnesota, with her Alaska-Native background giving her a natural fan base from the large, generally young Indigenous population in the Twin Cities, who are frequently big basketball fans).
 

DJnVa

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So everyone that said Reese was ROY because her team was in the playoffs ahead of the Fever has changed their mind now right?
 

cheesypoofs

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Who said that? And isn’t it rather early to be guessing at ROY?
Google ESPN's Monica McNutt, for one. One also heard same from at least 2 other of their talking heads in past 2 weeks but not looking for clips because I try hard to keep my exposure to the WWL limited.
This argument is relative ; at least first cousin to the CC can't be all that because she never won championship in college narrative.
It's obvious that you have a dog in this fight and that's your right but please anyone who's unfamiliar with all the moving goal posts and cherry picking stat citing is either disingenuous or without Internet access.
Disagree that it's too early or even a question of guessing because I don't think there's a question that Caitlin Clark is levels above Angel Reese and, barring season ending injury, it's all over but the teeth-gnashing.
I know there's a media agenda to pair the two like Magic and Bird, for whatever reasons - click bait definitely a big one but it's so transparently BS I have to assume most folks can see through it.
I'm not disparaging Angel Reese's ability to grab rebounds but to put her into that conversation (and yes, I know Magic has done it himself) just feels like, in large, part of media's inability to cope with the tsunami ofattention CC has brought to the league
 

amh03

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Interesting news…

The Connecticut Sun have acquired veteran guard Marina Mabrey in a trade with the Chicago Sky, the team announced Wednesday. In exchange, Chicago receives point guard Moriah Jefferson, guard Rachel Banham, and a first-round draft pick in 2025.
Hartford Courant article
 

InstaFace

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So, uhhh, probably the biggest WNBA news of the day. And arguably #2 biggest news item of the year, behind the Clark zeitgeist wave.

WNBA inks 11-year, $2.2 Bn broadcast-rights deal with Disney, NBC and Amazon, as part of the joint NBA-WNBA rights marketing agreements.

(The Athletic was first to report, yesterday)

That's $200M / year AAV, representing a 6x increase from their previous deal, and as Sportico's Kurt Badenhauser says: "The W commanded only 1% of the prior TV deal but nearly 3% of the current one." Which means that even though the NBA is much, much bigger than the WNBA, the latter's value has grown at a 3x faster rate - a very impressive feat.

Front Office Sports chimed in today with some figures about the value of the league to the rights holders - it's not just PR, it's a fast growing asset:

Ad measurement company EDO estimates that WNBA ad revenue has nearly doubled from $6.6 million in 2022 to $12.4 million in ’24, with fans 44% more likely to engage with league commercials so far this season compared to the same period last year. “The WNBA’s expanded media footprint marks a seismic shift in recognizing the immense value of women’s sports,” Laura Grover, a senior vice president at EDO, tells FOS.​
“We know that live sports has always been one of the most premium packages that are demanded from our advertisers,” says Kenneth Suh, the chief strategy officer for advertising technology company Nexxen. “And we now know that women’s sports inventories are also starting to demand high interest from buyers, as well, and previously that just wasn’t the case.”​

Although the WNBA is much older now than the NWSL (28 years in operation, vs 11 for the NWSL), the latter had a lot of momentum and recent public wins, from expansion franchises and billionaire owners to skyrocketing valuations. But the NWSL's annual media rights, in a 4-year deal announced last year, despite breaking records by a long distance, were still at $60M / year (their nearest competition, England's WSL hopes to get $20-25M / year for their new deal). The WNBA - with attendance on a long slightly-downward slide, and expansion long delayed - has now more than tripled the NWSL's inbound revenues, and with a further package of rights still under discussion, may end up getting 4x the NWSL's take.

I was skeptical about whether jointly marketing the TV rights between the two leagues would accrue to the benefit of the WNBA. For years, the W's rights were a throw-in to the big NBA deals, nobody was pointing at them specifically and making them wanted, putting a good team and investment behind their broadcasting contracts. But the league seems to have gotten the best of both worlds by doing it this time around, because as Sportico notes: "The two leagues negotiated their TV rights together, but they have different term sheets. The total value could move higher if the WNBA continues on its current growth trajectory; a clause in the deal allows the league and its partners to reexamine the rights deal after three years." Presumably that means a mutual opt-out, or at least an option on the league's side.

When the league's salary cap doubles next year, the free agents with newly-inked deals should tithe to Caitlin Clark, just send her a cut. What fortunate timing for the W that Clark's emergence happened right at the same time they were going to market for a very-long-term media deal.
 
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amh03

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I agree, @BaseballJones. Given that the first tier won’t likely be available, it seems like a positive move for the Sun. Will be interesting to see how they do in the 2nd half of the season after the Olympic break.

And that’s great news for the league, with that broadcasting deal.
 

cheesypoofs

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Cheryl Miller is coaching the WNBA All-Star team??!! How did I not know this?? Woohoo! Hope the old "Cheryl is better" chant is amended to just "Better Cheryl" for game.
Now, it's must-see.
 

Jed Zeppelin

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Clark one dime shy of a 20-20 game tonight. In a loss but when you break the league record for assists in a game I’m still taking notice.