NEW YORK – In one of the league’s most compelling seasons, the WNBA’s historic 20th scored its highest attendance in five years and included record marks for WNBA digital, social media and retail. In addition, the league experienced double-digit growth in television viewership on ESPN Networks and welcomed several new league partners in 2016 including Verizon as the WNBA’s marquee partner.
Highlights from the season include:
- ATTENDANCE: The WNBA registered its highest attendance (1,561,530) since 2011 and the highest average attendance (7,655) over the same time period (a 4.6% increase over last year). The season was highlighted by record-breaking numbers for the Chicago Sky and Indiana Fever. The Sky set franchise records for average attendance (7,009) and single-game crowd (16,444) against the Los Angeles Sparks on July 13. The Fever had its highest average (8,575) since 2001, and boosted the second highest single-game attendance in franchise history of 17,704 on Sept. 18 for legend Tamika Catchings’ final regular-season game. Also this season, the Phoenix Mercury recorded the highest average attendance (10,351) for the franchise since 1999.
- VIEWERSHIP: Combined ESPN and ESPN2 viewership was up 11% this season over last year (224,000 vs. 202,000). The season was highlighted by the season opener on ESPN between the Phoenix Mercury and the Minnesota Lynx, which delivered 505,000 viewers and delivered the highest-rated, regular-season WNBA game on the ESPN networks since 2011.
- DIGITAL: WNBA.com set a record for traffic with average monthly unique visitors up 22% and video views up 50% over last season.
- WNBA LEAGUE PASS: The league’s out-of-market live game streaming product saw a record 24% increase in subscriptions this year.
- SOCIAL MEDIA: The league surpassed 12 million likes and followers across all league, team and player social platforms, growing by 20%, with the addition of three million fans from last season. The WNBA also achieved records with over 530 million impressions, and over 50 million video views, both metrics more than doubling last year’s mark.
- MERCHANDISE: This season saw record sales on WNBAStore.com, an increase of 30% over last year with Breanna Stewart and the Seattle Storm capturing the top spot on the list of best-selling jerseys and team merchandise.
The WNBA’s new postseason format will debut Wednesday, Sept. 21, when ESPNews airs the two first-round, single-elimination games. Catchings and the Fever host Diana Taurasi and the Mercury in the opener (6 p.m. ET), followed by Breanna Stewart and the Seattle Storm visiting Angel McCoughtry and the Atlanta Dream (8 p.m. ET).