The WNBA is making a fast break toward streaming. In its 25th season, the league’s games will appear on streaming platforms like Paramount+, Twitter, and Facebook.
CBS and CBS Sports Network will combine to carry 40 games, and all of those will be live on Paramount+.
Twitter’s 12-game package, available via @WNBA, will feature in-game commentary from basketball insiders, influencers, and WNBA legends. The Twitter broadcasts will include fan tweet overlays, Q&As, trivia, and polls for fans to vote on certain elements of the game.
Facebook is making its 20 WNBA games available to view through the Oculus VR headset, though you can also see them through Facebook Watch.
ESPN’s networks will get 25 regular-season games, and all of them will stream live on the ESPN app, though the announcement does not mention ESPN+.
NBA TV will feature 35 games this season.
WNBA League Pass also returns this season, offering over 110 games.
Each of the 12 teams will play 32 regular-season games. The new WNBA season kicks off May 14 with four games: Indiana Fever vs. Chicago Sky (NBA TV), Connecticut Sun vs. Atlanta Dream (Twitter), Phoenix Mercury vs. Minnesota Lynx (CBSN), and Dallas Wings vs. Los Angeles Sparks (Facebook).
The splintered WNBA package may provide more overall viewership, but it may prove frustrating for fans who simply want to follow one team. Nearly every sport requires several streaming services to follow a team. With the premium advertisers are willing to pay to get in front of a live audience, it seems unlikely that will end anytime soon.
The league has come a long way since its debut. In 1997, WNBA players earned a base salary of just $15,000. Today, top players can earn upwards of $500,000. Ratings have improved as well. ESPN’s coverage of the Seattle Storm’s 2020 title-winning game averaged 570,000 viewers, up 27% over the final game from the year prior.