Television ratings are up. But the numbers are still small. Attendance is down. But sponsorship dollars are up.
Looking at the WNBA finances, it’s how you look at the glass of Chardonnay – half full or half empty.
The Sports Business Journal took a look at the league heading into the start of the playoffs this week and found a mixed bag.
Average attendance for the 12-team league through last Wednesday was down 3.7 percent to an average of 7,679 fans per game, compared with last year’s average of 7,971 through the same date. The 2009 average includes teams in Detroit and Sacramento, markets that are no longer in the league…Comparing only the 11 teams that played in both 2009 and 2010, average attendance was up 0.5 percent heading into the season’s final games this past weekend, WNBA officials said…
The WNBA this year signed new league partnerships with Jamba Juice, Coca-Cola and Pirate’s Booty snack food and doubled its number of team marquee deals, which include jersey sponsorships, to four…”Over the past two seasons, our teams have been diligent in improving the business model,” [WNBA President Donna] Orender said.
On TV, the WNBA as of last week was averaging a 0.2 cable rating and 263,000 viewers over 17 games on ESPN2, compared with a 0.2 rating and 234,000 viewers for nine regular-season games on ESPN2 last year.
So the ratings are up to about half of what an NHL game draws (and they get ripped for their ratings). For comparison, ESPN drew a 1.1 rating last season on its regular season NBA games, or about 1.65 million viewers. Playoff ratings were through the roof, the best the NBA had seen since the
The WNBA finances seem to be improving, along with the economy. It’s not going anywhere, which is good for women’s sports and in that way good for our culture. But it also remains a niche sport played when most Americans are thinking about baseball, golf and NASCAR as their viewing options.
Of course, the WNBA is not on the edge of a lockout, so they have that going for them. Which is nice.