WNBA Could Increase Media Rights Fees To $240 Million

WHN | Jun 14, 2024

The WNBA could increase its media rights fees to $240 million annually, according to sources from Front Office Sports. Currently,…

Subscribe now and read this article for FREE!

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

The WNBA could increase its media rights fees to $240 million annually, according to sources from Front Office Sports.

Currently, the WNBA receives around $60 million annually from its TV and streaming deals with Disney, Amazon Prime Video, CBS, and Ion. However, with the rise in viewership, attendance, and overall interest seen this season—spearheaded by star rookies such as Caitlin Clark—the league stands to quadruple these earnings following new negotiations.

As the NBA owns a majority of the WNBA, the two leagues will be part of the same media rights renegotiation deal. The NBA is looking to secure a record $76 billion deal with ABC and ESPN as the current contract expires after next season.

“The NBA is soliciting one total bid from media companies that does not separate the values of the NBA and the WNBA rights,” according to The Washington Post. “Some media companies involved in the bidding are not assigning a specific figure to the WNBA rights. That means the NBA’s massive deal could be rocket fuel for the WNBA—or that the WNBA’s increased popularity is more of an afterthought. It also could be a bit of both.”

Although several media executives believe the WNBA’s share of the deal could range from $80 million to $100 million annually, the actual share will ultimately be up to the NBA, rather than the media companies.

“If you’re not getting a number from the media companies, then you are hanging on to the NBA,” Laura Gentile, ESPN’s former chief marketing officer, said. “You’re saying it’s a rounding error in the grand scheme of business. Maybe that’s the case, but it doesn’t help the ecosystem grow. Women’s sports wants accountability; they want their growth projections to matter.”

Despite not being named as an independent entity in these negotiations, WNBA executives have expressed confidence in the NBA’s ability to secure proper funding for the league. Additionally, continuing to be a package deal with the NBA may benefit the WNBA as it continues to ride this wave of rising popularity. The two leagues share resources and cross-promote, meaning the NBA can leverage its larger fan base to demand more exposure and support for the WNBA.

“It’s a huge advantage to us to go to market with the NBA,” WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert told The Washington Post. “Especially with streaming services that rely on a 12-month subscription model. If we’re only there for 4½ months … how attractive is that? But we and the NBA are maybe the only sports properties that can give 330 days of live programming—almost the entire year. That’s hugely valuable to a subscription platform.”

NBA commissioner Adam Silver told the Associated Press in October 2018 that the WNBA has lost an average of $10 million annually since its inception. Even this year, following the WNBA’s explosive growth, the league is expected to lose $50 million.

Despite the financial challenges and relative newness of the league, the WNBA does have the right to split from the NBA to negotiate its own media rights deal, though that path is unlikely.

“I think there is a recognized increase in value across the board for women’s sports,” former WNBA commissioner Donna Orender said. “And I think that’s going to be represented in the new rights fees that will be paid.”

New Lady Vols Coach Kim Caldwell looking to lead the country in scoring 

WHN | Jul 11, 2024

Angel Reese’s Shoe Game Is A Work Of Art

WHN | Jun 27, 2024

Gamecocks Dominate At ESPYS

WHN | Jul 12, 2024

Sydney Wiese To Join Oregon State Coaching Staff

WHN | Jul 12, 2024

The Phoenix Mercury sign Celeste Taylor to a seven day contract 

WHN | Jul 12, 2024

The Pauldo Twins announce their commitment to Tennessee

WHN | Jul 12, 2024

Chelsea Gray To Play In Unrivaled 3×3 League

WHN | Jul 11, 2024

Flau’jae Johnson To Perform At The ESPYS

WHN | Jul 11, 2024