2020 WNBA Draft posts 123% increase in viewers from prior year

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With sports fan starved for fresh content, ESPN not only hit with “The Last Dance, but also the WNBA Draft. The 2020 WNBA Draft was the second-most-watched draft in the league’s history. Per ESPN, the draft averaged nearly 390,000 live viewers. That was an increase of 123% from the prior year.

Sabrina Ionescu of the University of Oregon was the first pick in the 2020 WNBA Draft. Ionescu was drafted by the New York Liberty after a dominating college career.

One factor that helped pushed the WNBA Draft up the ratings was that it aired on ESPN. Last year’s draft was on ESPN2 and ESPNU. The last time the WNBA Draft aired on ESPN was in 2011. This year’s version had an increase of 33% over that year’s, when Maya Moore was selected No.1 overall. The WNBA and NBA both saw increased traffic to their social media account on draft day as well.

The WNBA Draft was conducted virtually because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This week’s NFL Draft will also be conducted virtually. NFL decision-makers reportedly tuned in to a portion of the WNBA Draft to get a feel for how the virtual draft worked.

The success of the virtual WNBA Draft, both technologically and ratings-wise, bodes well for NFL Draft. Without games to watch, sports fans are looking to consume any new or unique content. The NFL Draft is expected to do its highest ratings in years, perhaps ever, as stuck-at-home fans tune in to see who their favorite teams pick.